New RNLI Lifeboats

Although nothing whatsoever to do with defence issues a number of Think Defence commenters have stated that RNLI lifeboats would form a good basis for military oriented small craft.

This detailed report from the Engineer describes the RNLI’s new Shannon Class lifeboats being built in the South West at the Berthon Boatyard and SAR Composites

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Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 22, 2014 10:10 pm

Looks like a great base to build from, a couple of thoughts for an RN version; smaller so it can be carried by a T26 (we don’t need a Archer replacement), a remote controlled HMG mounted on the bow and a pair of GPMG mounts on the aft, other than a new paint job I can’t think of any changes it would need.

January 22, 2014 10:46 pm

I love it, ive followed the RNLI for some time now and we will be getting one of these down here eventually!

I see no reason not to get this but it would have to be internally carried I would have thought. Can they replace the fast craft we have at Gib?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 23, 2014 11:49 am

Unless we have to there is no point replacing the Archer/Scimitar’s in the coastal patrol role, the RN only use 4 for permanent patrolling with the rest under the RNR and they are perfectly adequate for the roles they are used, i.e. harbour patrols. A rough sea capable vessel is going to be over speced for this role, and also if the RN wanted up armed vessels they would just upgrade the current ones as they are capable of carrying more weapons, but in Gibraltar this isn’t a route the RN would go down.

But as a ship carried patrol vessel these would be perfect, and that is something we are missing.

January 23, 2014 12:17 pm

I thought the description of the hull design most interesting – a clean sheet design based on sharp definitions of desired characteristics. Result – one very good seaboat. I suspect the hull design features could stand enlarging while retaining the sea keeping qualities – perhaps suiting some of our future warships. Funnily enough with a bit of stretching and scaling it would look very much like a Leander hull.

January 23, 2014 12:32 pm

After mexeflotes the RNLI my fave subject.. thanks TD

My father joined the RNLI after Merchant marine service and spent 25 years with them around the East Anglian coast and latterly as an Ops Officer in Poole. Later when at marchwood I had a few more chances to work with them and also to see their boats in repair/refit alongside MOD craft at local yards Great memories of meeting awesome people in some wonderful communities; “Shrimp’ Davies at Cromer and the Southwold crew unofficially sponsored by Adnams Ales !. Most striking moment was watching the organisation share collective grief when the Penlee boat was lost one Christmas; my Dad was on duty in HQ Poole and it was a very sombre time.

Obv I am biased but a overall a great organisation with great people. Especially impressive R&D, and training capability. with little fuss the RNLI has managed to maintain world beating kit, even have some export success, and manage to improve its training to cater for a generation of crew who largely don’t have seafaring backgrounds. when the new training centre opened in poole I took some 17 P&M crew to see it and the capsize tank and bridge simulator were better than anything we had trained on.

As for military links I remember my Dad telling tales of being at the Boat Show on the RNLI stand one year (1970-80s) when they were demoing one of the newer RIBs on a stand. he claimed he was visited by a QM type from some specialist organisation asking all sorts of questions about whether the ribs could be deflated partially to run with zero freeboard, or upside down, or rolled up into small spaces…. none of which sadly the RNLI had thought to specify during the design phase..

the second mil dit on this I’ll spin was being very very disappointed with the standard of repair and refit given to MOD craft from marchwood at a south coast shipwright company (well known) We wnt on a visit to find out why a simple refit was taking so long and the work so poor. Inevitably we got there and the WorkBoat in question was in Sh1te state with tools and kit everywhere. Inevitably also we had to complain through the Abbey wood MOD PE supervisor and AFAIK nothing much changed …(although to be fair this was 10 years ago now and the new workboats look greeat) what was striking was that next door was a shed in which all the contract work for the RNLI was conducted. The place was immaculate; like a formula 1 pit lane garage andf the boats were gleaming. I suspected it was just a cultural thing; literally noone cared about the workboats but everyone was proud and passionate about being part of maintaining the liefboats

Rant over !

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
January 23, 2014 12:43 pm

The RNLI technical department at Poole is one of the best kept secrets in the country and a very interesting bunch of people to visit! Extremely competent at what they do.

January 23, 2014 12:53 pm

It is essentially 6 crewed with seating capacity for 6 “survivours”. So I imagine a RN crew would look much like Coxswain, Helmsman, Navs and the HMG layer (eo turret blokey) plus two RM or RN to man two exterior gimpies. That leaves the 6 seats for a ‘partrol’. So you have room for 6 tooled up RM to do what they need to do.

It is however over designed on its beach capability for our uses of it that is I imagine unnessecary. Is there anyway we can have one of these for every ship in the fleet?

January 23, 2014 1:11 pm

How much life do the Archers have left in them? If the ones that steam around harbours and rivers as training vessels are fine then leave them be.

Perhaps just replace the Gib and Faslane boats with something a little larger and well armed (by which I only mean a couple of hundred tons with at most a 30mm) and get something like CB90 into service for the RM’s and harbour protection.

What’s the smallest ship a CB90 can be deployed from? Obviously large RFA’s can take them (having just read that the Germans are putting them on the Berlin class replenishment ships) but are they too large for T45/T26 sized platforms?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 23, 2014 6:49 pm

T45 is out for a CB90 but T26 with it’s mission bay is a possiblity, it is really to do with how big the small boat handling facilities are rather than the ship itself.

I disagree in terms of upgrading the Gib and Clyde boats, regards the Clyde, they are perfectly acceptable for their role, harbour patrol and SSBN in harbour escort, all they need to be able to do is put rounds into a small boat if it gets to close, if they need a bit more punch two of the Archer class are capable of having a 20mm cannon mounted so should be more than capable of mounting a HMG as well, and as the Archers are GRP they should last indefinatly with just the engines etc needing replacing when worn out. Harbour defense is normally a police role, even for a navy base, they are still armed just not as overtly.
Gib on the otherhand is tricky, we don’t need weapons as we will never shoot at the Spanish, but we could do with a larger vessel so as to be able to force a vessel out og Gib waters, but I would just buy a COTS tug of some form.

Pete Arundel
January 23, 2014 7:58 pm

Like most people I have huge fondness and respect for the RNLI and I thought it would have been a great idea if SAR helicopters could have been turned over to them instead of a private company. I guess the lack of a profit for someone would have offended the current government but as an example of ‘The Big Society’ [snort] it might have been a winner . . .

January 23, 2014 8:17 pm

@Engineer Tom

Fair points on the Archer class and small boats in general.

Sounds like the Archers will be perfectly good in their current role for the foreseeable future with as you say the odd refurbishment/update when necessary.

If the Royal Marines get their hands on CB90 or the equivalent then I’m sure they could be used for a bit of secondary harbour and river protection, although I agree it’s really primarily a police job. We should definitely see if they are compatible with the T26 as well!

I agree that Gibraltar doesn’t need more heavily armed boats, just ones that are a bit larger to ward off Spanish incursions more effectively.

Maybe if they were replaced the Scimitar boats could be used someplace else, like the Gulf as close protection for the vessels out there, especially as they transit in and out of port.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2014 12:23 am

Arundel – Good plan – gets my vote…