A new faster lifeboat is to be trialled off the south east Northumberland coast.
Blyth RNLI station has been chosen by the charity organisation to receive an Atlantic 85 boat – the fastest sea-going lifeboat.
The move was part of an RNLI announcement of changes to four lifeboat stations in the north east of England and Scottish Borders following an extensive review of the area’s coastline
At Blyth, the Atlantic 85 will be placed on a two-year trial to operate alongside the station’s current D-Class lifeboat.
The service believes Blyth, with its deep-water harbour, is well located to meet an expected increase in demand from sports, recreational and leisure marine users in that area.
Also, the development of the waterfront and harbour area may generate additional beach and coastal incidents.
The wider impact of these changes on lifesaving provision on this area will be reviewed at the end of the trial in 2017.
John Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Blyth RNLI, said: “The volunteer crew at Blyth RNLI are looking forward to trialling the charity’s fastest sea-going lifeboat, an Atlantic 85.
“Before trial begins, the crew will spend two months training in the new lifeboat before she becomes operational.”
The RNLI continually reviews its lifesaving services around the coasts of the UK and Ireland.
This process ensures the right lifeboats are stationed at the right locations to meet local needs and changing patterns of sea use while making the best use of the public donations on which the charity relies.
Also in Northumberland, the RNLI has plans to put new state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboats at Seahouses and Amble over the next three years as part of the fleet’s modernisation programme.
This means that the older 16 knot Mersey class all-weather lifeboat at Berwick-upon-Tweed will not need to be replaced at the end of its operational life in 2018.
RNLI operations director, George Rawlinson, said: “Our charity’s priority is to save lives at sea and by conducting regular reviews of lifeboat cover around our coastline, we can ensure we provide the best possible search and rescue service while making the most appropriate use of our supporters’ donations.”