Irish first for RNLI lifeboat class
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has named a class of lifeboat after an Irish river for the first time.
Rivers in Wales, Scotland and England have been chosen in the past but the latest addition to the fleet, currently in construction, has been christened the Shannon.
Arklow lifeboat operations manager Jimmy Tyrell, who has been campaigning for a lifeboat class to share a name with an Irish river, claimed he was thrilled.
"It is recognition for all the hard work of our volunteer lifeboat crewmembers, fundraisers and staff in Ireland," Mr Tyrell said.
"This has been a subject close to my heart for many years and I am delighted that it has been announced while I am still a volunteer lifeboat operations manager and heavily involved with the charity.
"I am looking forward to seeing it on service at lifeboat stations in a couple of years."
RNLI chief executive Paul Boissier said it was fitting that the fleet now reflects the fact that lives are saved across Ireland as well as the UK.
The Shannon class lifeboat will use twin waterjets instead of conventional propellers and will be able to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable.
The waterjets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached.
Full sea trials will start later this year and the first operational Shannon class lifeboat is due to go on station in 2013.
Each Shannon class lifeboat will cost approximately €1.7m.
It is not yet known whether the first Shannon class boat will be stationed in Ireland or the UK.