The RNLI's experimental all-weather lifeboat design Fast Carriage Boat 2 (FCB2 or 'Effseebee 2') came to Wells for launching and recovery trials in March 2006. The design is intended as the future replacement for the Mersey class lifeboat presently stationed at Wells and at 23 other lifeboat stations around the UK.
The FCB2 is a little larger than the Mersey and a generation ahead in technical terms. Twin Hamilton Water Jets powered by two Caterpillar C9 engines developing 550bhp each will provide a top speed of over 25 knots and amazing control and maneouverability.The purpose of the trials at Wells was to test two prototype carriage designs for launching and recovering the lifeboat... a new carriage and Talus tractor combination similar to that used for the current Mersey lifeboat and an all-in-one self-propelled design called the Supacat.
Wells was chosen for its long beach run at low-water and for the variety of sometimes tricky conditions and launching sites it presents.The trials also gave the crew at Wells an opportunity to see and try the new boat and stop offs were also fitted in for crews from Lowestoft, Cromer and Skegness.
After extensive trials, the RNLI eventually chose to back the Supacat carriage design but went back to the drawing board for the boat itself, subsequently building a new prototype for what became the Shannon class with many of the features of the FCB2 but with a new in-house designed hull and alternative engines.
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