A Northumberland village lifeboat station is to receive a new state of the art vessel, to replace one which has more than two decades of service.
Seahouses RNLI station is to receive a new all-weather lifeboat to replace its vessel Grace Darling, named after the heroine who performed a famous rescue off the coast of the village, which has been in use for 23 years.
The new vessel will enhance the station crew’s life saving capability by allowing it to reach casualties quicker.
It will replace the Grace Darling which has launched over 300 times, rescuing over 350 people and saving over 30 lives.
Bosses plan to retain the famous name in some form.
The station has had a Mersey class lifeboat since 1991.
Grace Darling was named after the girl who, with her father, rowed to the rescue of survivors of a shipwreck on the Farne Islands in 1838.
Now, however, the RNLI has told station bosses they are to receive one of the new “state of the art” Shannon class lifeboats.
The station will receive the new vessel in 2018.
Lifeboat operations manager Ian Clayton said: “The current Mersey class boat has served the station well, and is still a very capable lifeboat, but technology moves on, and the new Shannon is bristling with technology and has many improvements when compared with the Mersey.
“The main advantage will be the much faster top speed of 26 knots, compared with the current boat’s 16 knots, and much increased manoeuvrability.
“The increased speed will enable the boat to reach incidents more quickly, and hopefully enhance its life saving capability”.
Prior to the news, a prototype Shannon class vessel had been brought to Seahouses.
The crew tested out the boat, travelling to the Farnes.
“We were there in no time at all. It means if there is an incident at Farne Islands, we will be there a damn sight quicker.
“We often get called to take an ambulance crew to Holy Island in middle of night, we will get there a damn sight quicker as well.
“The current boat is brilliant, a great sea boat but it is getting old. The technology now, it is way beyond.”
Mr Clayton also said the Shannon class had a lower deck which will prove useful when pulling people from the sea. It also has more space which will make winching people to helicopters easier.
The prototype’s visit also allowed RNLI bosses to establish whether the Shannon class could fit in the lifeboat house, establishing that this was possible without need for alterations to the building.
The crew was also able to trial the launching gear for the Shannon class, with tractor and trailer, which will allow the boat to enter the water quicker.
The Grace Darling has launched 302 times since 1991, rescued 352 people and saved 35 lives.
Mr Clayton said: “We hope to keep the Grace Darling name in some form, but cannot duplicate the current name, as we cannot have two boats in the fleet with the same name, and our current boat is likely to go into the reserve fleet for a few years, before being sold out of service.”