Tynemouth RNLI's new inshore lifeboat has carried out its first service just 41 hours after being delivered to the lifeboat station.
The new lifeboat arrived on Wednesday (November 21), after construction and trials at the RNLI's Inshore Lifeboat Centre at Cowes, Isle of Wight. It is named Little Susie at the request of Pat and Susan Russell, who provided all the funds to build the lifeboat.
Little Susie was requested to launch with a crew of three volunteers at 5.26 on Saturday morning by UK Coastguard's Humber Operations Centre, who had concerns about a possible missing person on the coast. The person was located soon after, away from the sea.
The D-class inshore lifeboat has been the workhorse of the RNLI for over 50 years since it was first introduced into the RNLI’s lifeboat fleet in 1963, with the design of the inflatable boat continuing to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology. The D-class is a highly manoeuvrable boat and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats, with better capabilities for carrying out search and rescues in surf, shallow water and close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.
After being transported from Cowes to North Shields, the new lifeboat was prepared for service, given a short trial and officially placed into service at 11.50 on Wednesday morning. It replaces the previous D-class lifeboat at the station which had served for more than 10 years, launching in excess of 300 times to go to the aid of people in need of help at sea and in the River Tyne.
David Stenhouse, Tynemouth RNLI's volunteer lifeboat operations manager, said: "Our operational area for the inshore lifeboat covers the Tyne harbour, the open sea, the bays and beaches of North and South Tyneside and also the River Tyne right up to Newburn. We are very pleased to have this new lifeboat placed on service, and extremely grateful to Pat and Susan Russell who have funded the boat which is a fantastic piece of kit and brings the latest technology and capabilities to enable our volunteer crew to continue saving lives well into the future.
"Tynemouth is a busy RNLI lifeboat station so it comes as no surprise that our new lifeboat was called into service soon after arriving. Little Susie, numbered D-829, will be officially christened into the RNLI's lifeboat fleet at a naming ceremony that will take place at Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station in May 2019."