The Will was the first production Severn class all-weather lifeboat. It had been built in 1995 for Stornoway Lifeboat Station but had to undergo several modifications before it was fit for service. In the meantime it had been shown to many lifeboat stations where the class was expected to be deployed. It so impressed the crew at Falmouth that they asked the RNLI to station it at Falmouth until their own Severn, Richard Cox Scott, was built. The RNLI agreed and it was on station in Falmouth from January 1997 until December 2001. The Will replaced the station’s Arun class lifeboat Elizabeth Ann.

The Severn class lifeboat is the largest lifeboat in the fleet and is one of the latest designs of all-weather lifeboats with a top speed of 25 knots. Built of FRC (fibre reinforced composite) which has advantages of both strength and lightness, she is designed to lie afloat. She is powered by two 1250 HP V12 turbocharged diesels which burn 480 litres of fuel per hour and has a range of 250 nautical miles. The Severn is fitted with a bow thruster to improve manoeuvrability.

The Severn is fitted with a very sophisticated navigation system which includes a Differential GPS satellite navigator which interfaces with a Laser plotter chart system which carries all the admiralty charts on computer for display on a monitor. This in turn interfaces with a Bridgemaster Radar. This system allows the boat’s track to be superimposed onto the charts and the radar. It also allows radar targets to be plotted and superimposed onto the charts. As well as this, search patterns can be set up on the laser plot and superimposed onto the radar. The Differential GPS is the piece of the jigsaw that supplies the boats position to the system. Other electronics include VHF and MF/HF radios both with GMDSS fitted, VHF Direction finding equipment, speed log, anemometer and autopilot.

The Severn carries a small outboard power Y class inflatable which can be launched over the stem for shallow water work. Closed circuit television is fitted to the Severn, this allows two cameras to monitor the engine room and a third camera to monitor the after deck.

All-weather lifeboats are usually named after the river where the prototypes are built. The Severn and Trent class boats were named after two of the country’s main rivers to reflect the fact that much of the Institution’s funding comes from inland areas.

Severn Class
Length 17m ( 55ft.9ins.) Beam 5.5m (18ft.)
Draught 1.8m (5ft.6ins.) Weight 37.5 Tonnes.
Range 250 nautical miles.

Why “The Will”?

The Will was funded by The Will Charitable Trust. This was set up by a lady with money that she had inherited from her husband. It was decided that, because of her husbands love of the sea, some of the money would go to fund a new lifeboat. The original “Will” was an East coast sailing barge owned by the couple. Unfortunately the lady has since died although she was able to see, and indeed steer “The Will” before her death. It was the result of her generous gesture that the station was proud to have this marvellous boat in Falmouth.

The station was sorry to see the old Arun class lifeboat Elizabeth Ann go after eighteen years stirling service on station. However,this new boat enabled the station to achieve the RNLI’s aim of being able to reach a point 50 miles off the coast in 2½ hours.

The Will was replaced by the Severn class lifeboat Richard Cox Scott 17-29 in 2001