Saving Lives at Sea

The recent BBC2 series, Saving Lives at Sea, has given a truly remarkable insight into the day-to-day operations of Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI) crew around the British Isles. Planet Platforms has helped with the building of some of these new lifeboats.

The RNLI brand new all-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) headquarters in Poole, Dorset, officially opened on 21 August 2015. The aim of this state-of-the-art facility was to provide every all-weather lifeboat crew with a 25-knot lifeboat by 2019.

To meet this incredible goal would require the building of six of these all-weather lifeboats every year, as well as maintain their existing fleet. The facility brings every stage of the lifeboat building process in-house and under one roof, ensuring that the RNLI are fully equipped to build the next generation of all-weather lifeboats.

This Shannon class lifeboat is the latest class of all-weather lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet. She’s the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making her the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat yet. The naming of the Shannon class lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. But it's the first time an Irish river has been chosen.

The Shannon was designed to be launched and recovered from a beach via a new faster and safer launch and recovery system and together they are revolutionising the way the RNLI save lives at sea.

Building the Shannon therefore required a market leading access equipment solution and it was here in 2015 that Planet Platforms journey with the RNLI began.

The Shannon is built in five distinct bays, two hull bays, two wheelhouse bays and one complete assembly bay. Building the hull and wheelhouse section separately gives the marine engineers and boatbuilders more space to work before the two sections are joined for the final build assembly.

The solution was to provide independent but connected bays each measuring 16.5m in length, 6.3m in width and 2.5m in height that is needed to accommodate the vessels 13.6mm length and 4.5m beam.

Designed and constructed using box aluminium profile, decked in non-slip marine ply, each bay gives 360-degree access to each lifeboat section including the ability to work from beneath the platforms.

Furthermore, each bay is height adjustable to help futureproof the solution for years to come. Profiled and hinged flaps on the port and starboard sides enable each lifeboat section to be moved in or out with the minimum of disruption, all of which help improve productivity and steers the RNLI into reaching their 2019 goal.

This was just the start of Planet Platforms relationship with the RNLI, as they soon recognised our ability to deliver world class access solutions. In addition to building the new Shannon lifeboats the RNLI has a fleet of over 350 other vessels based at stations around the UK and Ireland that also needed to be maintained.

The safe work at height challenges are the same when maintaining the vessels and Planet Platforms revised their original design with mesh fibreglass decking for work on the Seven, Tamar and Trent bays respectively.

As the RNLI moves towards reaching its pledge to provide every all-weather lifeboat crew with a 25-knot Shannon lifeboat by 2019, Planet Platforms is incredibly privileged to have been part of this journey.