Southport Lifeboat goes away for refit

27th February 2018
The Southport Lifeboat, Heather White, has today (26/2/18) left Southport destined for Habbeké Shipyard in The Netherlands where she will undergo a major refit after 11 years in service.

When she comes back she will have new navigation system which includes AIS, as well as having been rewired and all perishable items replaced.

Senior Coxswain, Keith Porter, said; “Having been on station at Southport for over a decade, the time has come for us to send the Lifeboat away for a refit.

“She has done a sterling job in that time and helped save many lives, however is showing signs of wear and tear and it is important that she remains in the best condition possible to meet the standards set by the Coastguard.”

A refit is necessary as the boat is subject to the salt water conditions and is stored in a damp boathouse. Over time these conditions have led to a number of issues which require the boat to be taken off service to complete.

In addition, this period of being off service allows the vessel to be brought up to date with new technologies.

Keith said; “We’re already looking forward to her coming home to Southport for at least 11 more successful years.”

Whilst the Southport Lifeboat is away, cover will be provided by the Southport ILB, the Christopher Taylor, as well as the usual service from our flanking RNLI stations at Lytham St Anne’s and New Brighton. The Quad service will remain unaffected.

Making the same trip in the opposite direction is a new launch vehicle which has been marinised over the past six months by Habbeké Shipyard from a Claas Challenger tractor.

Due to the large tidal range and expanses of mud and soft sand on Southport Beach, a Launch vehicle that can make the journey from the boathouse to the tide line quickly and safely is a necessity.

When it became obvious that the converted dumper truck that has been at Southport for 20 years was nearing the end of its life, the decision was taken to look for a new vehicle that could stand up to the job for the next 20 years.

The Trust came across Habbeké Shipyard who build Launch Vehicles and Lifeboats for the KNRM, the Dutch Lifeboats, and were impressed by the Challenger Tractor.

A retired KNRM Challenger was initially bought to test the suitability and the decision was quickly made to have a new vehicle produced by Habbeké and to keep the old Challenger as a backup.

Due to the impressive work carried out on the Challenger conversion, the Trustees decided to award the contract for refitting the lifeboat to Habbeké who have experience in building and refitting KNRM lifeboats.