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Shannon Launch and Commissioning – Part 2

This case study will cover the ongoing post launch commissioning of RNLI 13-13 ‘George and Thomas Lacy’ – Swanage lifeboat

Swanage Lifeboat 13-13 RNLI Shannon Class All Weather Lifeboat

When a brand new boat is launched for the first time, a series of post-launch checks are carried out while the boat is held in its launch slings.

The main aim of this is to check the watertight integrity of the through hull fittings and waterjets to ensure that the boat stays watertight. Once the lead engineer is satisfied that the boat is watertight our boat moving team move the lifeboat to Berthons dedicated work berths alongside our yard wall because at this stage the lifeboats engines and Water-jets are yet to be commissioned.


As soon as the boat has been moved to the yard wall, an ‘incline experiment’ is carried out using 400kg of weights and some angle measuring equipment. This experiment ensures that the boat will be within its designed stability tolerances and is safe to proceed on sea trials.

After the incline is completed, the engines are commissioned and started for the first time.

RNLI 13-13 Bow section - showing spray rails

The following is a list of checks completed prior to engine start:

  • Seawater system is checked for correct connection and relevant feed valves opened
  • Fresh water cooling system
  • Engine and gearbox oil levels
  • Fuel filters full of diesel and lines to engine primed
  • Exhaust system and lagging
  • Power available and engine displays showing no faults
  • Engines, gearboxes, shafts and jets and surrounding areas free of tools/loose equipment
  • Gearboxes disengaged
  • Calibrated mechanical oil pressure gauges fitted to engine and gearbox (in place of the remote senders)

Fuel Filters on Shannon Class LIfeboat

Engine room of shannon class lifeboat

When the engines are started for the first time the following checks are carried out:

  • The raw water system is checked for flow and leaks
  • The temperatures and oil pressures are checked
  • Scania local engine displays checked for faults
  • Main alternator (and secondary on port engine) voltage output is checked with a clamp meter

The next system to be commissioned is the Hamilton water-jets, a Hamilton service and commissioning engineer attends for this.
First off all a Berthon engineer starts the engines and engages the gearboxes to drive the jets for the first time. At this point the shafts are checked for the correct direction of rotation.

Once satisfied that the jets are working correctly, the steering nozzle and ‘bucket’ mechanisms are commissioned by the attending Hamilton engineer, this involves finding the maximum limits of the nozzles and buckets to then setting the nozzle mid-ship and ‘neutral’ bucket positions.

Hamilton waterjets - Shannon class lifeboat

All of the fly-by-wire and back-up controls are then tested to ensure full and correct movements are experienced allowing the vessel to proceed onto its sea-trials.

Shannon Lifeboat Helm Station

Hamilton waterjet buckets - shannon class lifeboat


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 1 – The commissioning, trials and acceptance of Shannon class lifeboat

Part 3 – Shannon Sea Trials