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Shannon Class Lifeboats

Lough Swilly's Shannon Class lifeboat, O.N.1315, 13-08 Derek Bullivant was the first of it's class to be stationed in Ireland. Photo: RNLI

The Shannon class lifeboat – its previous designation was the Fast Carriage Boat 2 or FCB2 reflecting that it will be predominantly launched over beaches, – harnesses cutting-edge technology to ensure that it will meet the demands of a 21st century rescue service and allow the charity’s volunteer crew to do their lifesaving work as safely as possible in all weather conditions.

Using twin waterjets instead of conventional propellers, the Shannon class will be able to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable. The waterjets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached.

It can be launched, bow first, from a tractor and carriage and will have a top speed of 25 knots. Like the Tamar class lifeboat, the Shannon also has specially designed seats that protect the volunteer crew and SIMS (System and Information Management System), which allows the crew to monitor the boat from the safety of their seats.

Like all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is self-righting and will return to an upright position in the event of capsize.

Lough Swilly was the first Irish station to receive a Shannon Class in April 2015.

Shannon Class Overview

  • Cost: £1.5 million
  • In Service: From 2013
  • Length: 13.6m
  • Width: 4.54m
  • Load: 14.6 tonnes
  • Crew: 5
  • Range: 250 nautical miles
  • Max Speed: 25-27 Knots
  • Engines: 2 x Catterpiller C9 engines, 510hp, 2 x Hamilton HJ 362 Waterjets

Systems and Information Management System (SIMS)

The integrated electronic Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) allows crew to monitor, operate and control many of the lifeboat’s systems directly from the safety of their seats.

It means they spend less time standing up and moving around the lifeboat and so are less prone to injury in rough weather.

SIMS provides access to:

  • communications including VHF (very high frequency) radio, direction finder (DF) and intercom
  • navigation including radar, chart, differential global positioning system (DGPS), depth and speed
  • machinery monitoring including engines, transmission, fuel and bilge.


The Shannon is the first modern all-weather lifeboat propelled by waterjets instead of propellers, making her the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI fleet.

Waterjets allow the Shannon to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. And when precision really matters, such as operating alongside a stricken vessel or navigating around hazards, they come into their own.

At maximum power, the Shannon lifeboat pumps 1.5 tonnes of water each second from her waterjets.

Measuring just over 13m in length and weighing in at 18 tonnes, the Shannon is the smallest and lightest of the 25-knot lifeboats, meaning she can be launched straight off the beach via a new and improved launch and recovery system.

Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS)

Hoylake’s Shannon class lifeboat, Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood 13-06, being recovered by her launch and recovery tractor, Roland Hough. Photo: Dave James

Designed in conjunction with Supacat Ltd, the new tractor-borne carriage allows a faster and safer launch and recovery time than the present Mersey system.

It operates as a mobile slipway, which solves the unique challenge of transporting, launching and recovering the Shannon lifeboat over some of the most demanding beaches.

After being recovered from the beach bow first, a turntable in the carriage rotates the Shannon 180º ready for her next launch. Meaning casualties can be reached sooner and our volunteer launching crews are better protected.

RNLI All-Weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC)

The RNLI All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset. Photo:Nathan Williams

The All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) is a production facility of approximately 5,000m2 with 7,000m2 of open areas, quay spaces and good land access for low loaders.


The new facility allows the manufacture of six Shannon-class composite all-weather lifeboats per year from hull construction to engine and system fit-out. A dedicated area of the facility will also deal with the re-fit of some 125 all-weather lifeboats per year. It includes some impressive features such as three spray booths used to apply primer, coats of paint and antifoul to the lifeboats, moveable platforms which will improve ergonomics and efficiency for accessing fit-out and refit.


The All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) officially opened on 21 August 2015.


From ON1319 fitting-out progressively switched to the RNLI All-Weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) at Poole, to which hull moulding also transferred from ON1330. 

Lifeboats in Bold lettering are currently based at Irish stations. 

Lifeboats in Italic lettering are not yet in service or under construction. Allocations & names may be subject to change.


(1) Prototype Shannon class lifeboat. Trials from 2005 until withdrawn from use in May 2012. Sold in 2013 to Dutch owners.

(2) Not officially named until 11/07/13.

(3) Temporarily on station until arrival of the new permanent Shannon class lifeboat.

(4) First Shannon class to be fitted out at ALC.

(5) Temporarily on station.

(6) First all ALC built lifeboat.

O.N. is the RNLI's Official Number of the boat

Op.No. is the RNLI's Operational Number of the boat carried on the hull

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