New £1.5m 'sea tractor' delivered to lifeboat station

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station.

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station. - Credit: RNLI

The crew at Wells lifeboat have taken delivery of a vast new £1.5m 'sea tractor' which will allow them to launch their new boat in tough sea conditions.

The vehicle is fitted with tank tracks to carry the Shannon lifeboat across wet sand and into the waves.

It is designed to operate in calm seas up to a depth of 2.4m and can withstand full submersion in water of up to 9m deep if it gets stranded on an incoming tide.

Its arrival is the latest stage in the multimillion pound upgrade of the RNLI's facilities in Wells, where a new boathouse has already been built and which will be completed once the new 18-tonne boat arrives in the autumn.

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station.

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station. - Credit: RNLI

The new machine - comprising a tractor and a launching rig - is known as the Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS).

It will allow the new lifeboat to be launched and recovered bow first, reducing the time and space needed to prepare for relaunch – a critical factor if the crew faces a busy day of call outs.

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station.

The new £1.5m SLARS equipment which has arrived at Wells lifeboat station. - Credit: RNLI

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said: "It's great to see the arrival of this highly capable and impressive purpose-built rig.

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"We are looking forward to the intense crew training beginning in preparation for our new Shannon lifeboats arrival at Wells in a couple of months’ time."

The vehicle was delivered on Thursday.

Training will begin next week for five of Wells' crew so they will be able to operate the complex equipment safely and efficiently.