A lifeboat named by the RNLI in honour of the late HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has taken to the water for the very first time.
RNLI staff and crew members from Wells-next-the-Sea Lifeboat Station gathered at the All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset to celebrate the completion of their new Shannon class lifeboat as it was lowered into the water after leaving the factory.
The state-of-the-art Shannon class boat is named Duke of Edinburgh in honour of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, who died last year, aged 99.
As is tradition at the RNLI, a ceremonial bell was rung eight times on 5 July to mark the special moment the Shannon came off the production line and entered the water. Following rigorous sea trials, the lifeboat is due to go into service later this year at Wells-next-the-Sea, just a short distance from Sandringham, the Royal Estate in Norfolk.
In addition to Prince Philip’s royal title, the boat also bears the names of 15,000 loved ones submitted by RNLI supporters through the lifesaving charity’s Launch a Memory fundraising campaign.
Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: “We are delighted to honour Prince Philip’s longstanding commitment to maritime services and lifetime of support to Her Majesty The Queen, who has been our Patron since 1952.
“Building lifeboats and lifesaving equipment is something we do every day, but each lifeboat marks a very meaningful moment in history. For crews they are welcoming a new boat which will help our lifesavers work towards saving every one. For RNLI supporters, they will know this lifeboat is launching in memory of so many loved ones every time she receives the call for help.”
Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have a long history with the RNLI. Her Majesty has been Patron of the lifesaving charity since 1952 and The Duke of Edinburgh became a member of the Council in 1972. Together, they visited several RNLI lifeboat stations over the years.
In a nod to The Duke of Edinburgh’s proud naval career during which he was Commanding Officer of HMS Magpie, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attached a magpie engraved plate to the Wells lifeboat in June last year.
Wells Lifeboat Station Lifesaving Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said: “The Shannon will help take us forward in all weathers. The crew are eagerly awaiting her arrival and can’t wait to make the boat fully operational on station.
“The station is immensely proud and honoured to have its new Shannon class lifeboat named Duke of Edinburgh. We are in no doubt that our new lifeboat will continue the vital work of saving lives at sea, which we know His Royal Highness was so passionate about throughout his lifelong maritime association.”
Max Philips, ALB Navigator and Mechanic at RNLI Wells said: “It was wonderful to finally see our new lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh lifted into the water today. I’d like to say “thank you” to everyone who has helped to build her and to fund her; she wouldn’t be here without thousands of supporters locally and further afield, as well as the public service charity The Lifeboat Fund.”
Duke of Edinburgh is the 53rd lifeboat to be funded by the generosity of civil servant donations to The Lifeboat Fund as part of the Civil Service charity’s 150th anniversary appeal.
For further information on the RNLI’s Launch A Memory campaign, please visit: RNLI.org/LaunchAMemory