Lifeboats fail at sea

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The Independent Online
THE NEW pounds 1.5m flagship of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is undergoing design modifications after four members of the crew of the first boat were injured when it was hit by a large wave during trials.

Other boats in various stages of construction will now have to undergo major changes before new trials can take place and it may now be some time before the boats can go into service.

The problem is a big blow for RNLI crews in Stornoway, Harwich, Dover, Humber, St Peter Port and Islay, who had been expecting to take delivery of the boats shortly. The Severn Class lifeboat was designed to be the fastest and biggest boat to be commissioned by the RNLI.

The problems emerged when the first of the class of boats, The Will, destined for service in Stornoway, ran into trouble last month during trials off the Cornish coast. The boat sustained damage after falling from a seven metre wave. Four of the crews' seats were buckled, the aerial mast was bent, and one of the keels became detached. There was also some damage to a bulkhead.

A detailed examination over recent months has now revealed the full extent of the problem. Designs were blamed for a failure in the bulkhead which meant it was not able to withstand severe impact. There will also be design changes in the mast and new chairs. A new keel design is also being developed.

"Repair schemes are being prepared by Lloyd's Register and the actual method of carrying out the repairs will be discussed with Lloyd's and the various shipbuilders involved," said an RNLI spokesman.

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