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The commissioning, trials and acceptance of a brand new Shannon class lifeboat – Part 1

The Shannon class lifeboat – A brief overview of pre-launch commissioning

RNLI Lifeboat Commissioning Trials at Berthon Boat Co

Shannon Lifeboat electrical checks on commissioningThe Berthon built RNLI 13-13 boat ‘George Thomas Lacy’ is Swanage’s Shannon class lifeboat.

Once the boat is wired up in accordance with the electrical drawings, our teams of electricians methodically carry out a series of checks before powering the craft up as a whole.

Visual and polarity checks are carried out on the following installed equipment:

  • Main Distribution board (DB).
  • Engine wiring looms.
  • Hamilton jet system.
  • Battery charger.
  • Air-conditioning system.

A visual polarity check is then carried out on the fused power distribution systems (Powerplex modules).

On completion of all of the initial checks, the electrical team is ready to start a controlled and methodical power-up sequence that will bring each bit of electrical equipment on one at a time.

  • All of the fuses are removed from the Powerplex units to prevent any accidental power-up.
  • The battery banks are fitted with temporary in-line fuses in preparation for gradual power-up.
  • The first (of three) battery banks is connected to the main DB.
  • The first (of thirteen) powerplex modules then have fuses introduced one by one to ensure that the right piece of equipment has power and is functioning correctly in accordance with the detailed specification.

Final Battery and Fuse Checks
Final Pre Launch Checks

With the equipment and systems now checked the boat is ready for the full normal start-up procedure to be carried out. As an added precaution the first complete power-up is undertaken with the temporary in-line fuses still in place on the battery banks. This temporary protection is left in place for at least 2 weeks before the launch so that the commissioning team can be confident that there aren’t any gremlins in the system.

The final pre-launch commissioning takes place in the week before launch, this involves final System and Information Management System (SIMS) commissioning by RNLI contractors SciSys, plus initial fueling.

The fueling is carried out whilst still in the build slot so that accurate calibration of the fuel level sensors can be carried out with the boat in a stable and upright position to ensure future accuracy of the fuel levels reported on SIMS.First Fuel for Shannon Class Liferboat as part of teh Commissioning


Berthon will be pleased to answer any questions or request for information on this case study.

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View the rest of this series of case studies.

Part 2 – Shannon Launch and Commissioning

Part 3 – Shannon Sea Trials