Wells Lifeboat  RNLI Lifeboats Wells Norfolk UK

FCB2 launching trials at Wells March 2006

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.

Exit Gallery

The FCB2 in Wells quay
Wells crew take a familiarisation trip at the start of the trials
Crew members gather round for an explanation of the joystick helm controls
FCB2 on a new Biglands carriage with modified Talus tractor, similar to the current Mersey setup
Returning from a trial launch on the east side
Talus tractor detached when the carriage was briefly stuck while returning from Bob Hall sands
The Talus partly submerged towing carriage and lifeboat on the winch cable
Talus with lifeboat in tow crossing the channel
FCB2's twin Hamilton Water Jets (with slight customisation to starboard unit after a launch on the East Side)
Prototype Supacat launching carriage at the end of the Beach Road
Fence hastily removed to make enough room for the Supacat to drive up onto the beach
Supacat making its way up to the beach bank
FCB2 beached by the channel while waiting for the prototype Supacat launching carriage to pick it up
FCB2 recovered onto the Supacat, prototype SLRS launching carriage
Waiting to be recovered on Holkham beach
The Supacat approaches the FBC2
Line attached, the FCB2 is winched up onto the carriage
Up on the carriage prior to being rotated into position for relaunch
Alongside in Lowestoft harbour after leaving Wells
FBC2 prototype alongside just across from Lowestoft's Tyne and boathouse

Exit Gallery

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