Babcock has today (11 April) handed over the latest Tamar Class lifeboat to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). This lifeboat will represent the charity during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in June to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s special year.
The RNLI Engineering and Supply Director David Brook and Operations Director Michael Vlasto attended the handover ceremony at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth today. Together with Babcock Project Manager Steve O’Mara they took the vessel for a short trip around the Plymouth Sound and into the sea, demonstrating that the boat is operationally sound. This was followed by the official handover of the lifeboat.
Diamond Jubilee(named in honour of the RNLI’s patron Her Majesty The Queen) will be stationed at Eastbourne and replace the 20-year-old Mersey class all-weather lifeboat currently in operation.
Diamond Jubileeis the 23rd Tamar class all-weather lifeboat fitted out and brought to operational readiness by Babcock. The company has four lifeboats in different fit-out phases at any one time, and delivers an operational lifeboat to the RNLI every three months. A further four vessels will follow under the current contract, with a total of 27 delivered by 2013.
The vessels are constructed in two parts by RNLI SAR Composites in Lymington Hampshire using strong, lightweight composite materials and advanced manufacturing techniques. The hull and deck and superstructure are delivered to Babcock’s Devonport facility where the vessel is given its livery and distinctive colour scheme. All the mechanical, electrical and constructive ship’s systems are then assembled and installed by Babcock in the ‘fit-out’ stage, followed by a five week trial phase during which the lifeboat is set to work, tested, and fully put through its paces. Every fourth lifeboat is put through a self-righting trial and as part of this processDiamond Jubileewas lowered into the water for the first time on Monday 6 February, the actual date of HM The Queen’s ascension to the throne in 1952 (at which time she became RNLI patron).
Significant improvements have been made by Babcock in continually introducing methods to meet the challenging financial targets set by the RNLI with each contract that has been awarded. Production efficiency improvements have seen the number of hours to build each lifeboat steadily reduced by 68% since the first-of-class build in 2005. New processes based on ‘lean’ principles have been introduced to deliver further improvements, along with a continuous improvement programme, and bottlenecks have been minimised and efficiency increased with a view to ‘achieving more with less’. This latest Tamar class lifeboat has seen the first full implementation of new ‘pulse’ electronic production monitoring software, as part of the lean initiatives, enabling progress to be monitored and tracked throughout the process as the technicians and craftsmen record progress daily using a number of PCs installed next to the boat. This speeds up information flow, and allows areas for further efficiency improvements to be identified.
Diamond Jubileehas been successfully completed within a very tight timescale, due to the Christmas break, to meet the launch date. Babcock has delivered all 23 Tamar lifeboats on time and to the highest quality, demonstrating an excellent track record.
At the handover ceremony today Babcock RNLI Project Manager Steve O’Mara said: “We are delighted to have delivered the 23rd Tamar class lifeboat to the RNLI today on schedule, and to a very high standard. The production team here will be proud to see her participating in the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant in the summer, and then onwards to her station to aid and protect the volunteer crews each and every time they launch to save lives at sea.”
RNLI Operations Director Michael Vlasto said: “It never ceases to inspire me when I see the final product on the water – a well-built, robust lifeboat to protect our volunteers crews in the very best way possible. All involved in the process, at every stage of build, keep in mind the dangers our crews face every time they launch to save others, giving us an end product to be proud of.”
Paul Metcalfe, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Eastbourne, commented: “Not only is our crew receiving a new Tamar lifeboat, she will proudly take her place in the very special Thames Pageant. It is an honour and a privilege that the lifeboat, and some of our crew, will be onboard and taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime event that honours HM The Queen, our charity’s Patron.”