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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Ship Science Graduate Designs the RNLI’s latest lifeboat

Published: 15 November 2012Origin: Engineering

Southampton ship scientist Peter Eyre has designed an impressive new lifeboat for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The new Shannon class is the next generation of all-weather lifeboats. It has an improved top speed of 25 knots and performs well in rough conditions, with new safety features to keep its crew out of harm during the most difficult of rescues. The boat, powered by water jets instead of propellers, can be launched directly from beaches for maximum flexibility.

The 28 year old from Northern Ireland is delighted with it. "I'm chuffed it was named after a river in Ireland," he says. "I think the moment it first goes out on a service will be the pinnacle. My parents will be so proud. It's a great legacy to be a part of, especially at my age. I think it will sink in gradually. When the first life is saved I think that's when it will really hit home."

Peter, who graduated with an MEng degree in Ship Science in 2006, first worked with the charity on a summer placement then took a one year internship after his studies which turned into a permanent job. "I remember we were taught by visiting professor Bob Cripps from the RNLI for a second year module. It opened my eyes to the opportunities of working in this area and I have enjoyed contributing to this project."

Once he became an RNLI Engineer, he came up with plans for the new lifeboat in his spare time: "I kept the design under wraps in the early stages. After a while my boss could see I was working on something and encouraged me to continue. My job was to find the design by working with other naval architects, not to design it. I was the youngest in the team and before long I had designed the new lifeboat hull." Peter, who works at RNLI HQ in Poole, is also involved with sea trials and design amendments following feedback from crew members.

The first Shannon class lifeboat was launched in January 2012; 50 will be built in total over the next ten years to replace older boats and Selsey in West Sussex will be among the first lifeboat stations to take delivery of one. The RNLI estimates they will rescue more than 56,000 people and save the lives of over 1,500 in their lifetime.

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Notes for editors

Image:Naval Architech Peter Eyre with Shannon class lifeboat

Image Credit: RNLI/Nathan Williams

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