The lifeboat arrived by road from East Cowes on the Isle of Wight where it was built at the RNLI’s Inshore Lifeboat Centre.
The new Atlantic 85 lifeboat will replace the station’s current Atlantic 75 lifeboat Eve Pank as it reaches the end of her operational life. Introduced into the fleet in 2005, the Atlantic 85 lifeboat is the third generation of B class lifeboat and gradually replacing the Atlantic 75’s on RNLI service.
With its highest speed reaching 35 knots, it is faster than the Atlantic 75, which can reach up to 32 knots. It is also bigger, being nearly a metre longer, 20cm wider and 12cm deeper.
To accommodate the new, larger lifeboat, the lifeboat station in Falmouth has undergone some alterations and upgrades which have been funded through an appeal in which the local community raised over £130,000.
Alan Rowe, Falmouth RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager says;
‘The Falmouth community certainly rose to the challenge, we’re extremely grateful for the hard work put in by our volunteer fundraisers to achieve this incredible amount. They organised bucket collections, photo exhibitions, garden parties and book launches, some even took on a personal challenge to help raise funds, including one runner who completed the London Marathon this year.
The money has been used to fund new aluminium ramps which allow the bow of the larger Atlantic 85 to rise above the winch. At this angle the engines and radar assembly dip towards the floor which ensures the Atlantic 85 fits into the boat hall. The ramps are lightweight which means they can be moved out of the way should the boat hall be required for events.
The height of the double doors has been raised to accommodate the bigger lifeboat, and the safety and functionality of the winch which pulls the 1.8 tonne Atlantic 85 into the boathouse has been improved. These modifications mean that the winch is now joystick controlled and can be operated remotely, allowing the winch person to perform a mobile safety check around the lifeboat and full extent of the launch ramp to make sure everyone is clear prior to winching.
In addition, there have been several improvements to the interior of the crew area in the station. Including the reconfiguration of the crew training room to allow space for a new private office for the station’s full time Coxswain/Mechanic to be created, a new kitchenette and an upgrade of the crew changing area downstairs with 15 new individual hanging cabinets to better stow the new Helly Hansen kit.
These upgrades and improvements couldn’t have been achieved without the generosity of the Falmouth community, monies raised through the appeal are ringfenced and will continue to be used to modernise and upgrade the station.’
The new Atlantic 85 is called Robina Nixon Chard after Mrs Robina Chard who left a bequest to fund a lifeboat in Cornwall. Robina lived in Falmouth and passed away in March 2012. Her husband Bernard did a lot of work to support the RNLI in his lifetime. An official naming ceremony will be held at the station in September.
Jonathon Blakeston, Falmouth RNLI Coxswain/Mechanic said: ‘Eve Pank has been a superb lifeboat, loved by the volunteer crew who have launched her on service over 700 times during her 12 years at Falmouth. She’ll be greatly missed, however we’re very excited to be welcoming our new Atlantic 85 lifeboat and the volunteer crew can’t wait to start their new chapter of lifesaving with the Robina Nixon Chard.
Over the last few weeks, the volunteer lifeboat crew have put in 12 hour days to complete their training and familiarisation with the new Atlantic 85 before it becomes operational towards the end of this week.’