New acquisition for Swansea's National Waterfront Museum
World renowned RIB lifeboat on display until the end of May
Think of a lifeboat that could withstand the rigours of the Bristol Channel and that has saved 4,717 lives?
The result? A RIB - A Rigid Hull Inflatable Lifeboat - and it is on display at the National Waterfront Museum now.
Donated to the Museum by UWC Atlantic College, St Donat's Castle, near Llantwit Major in South Wales, the RIB is the result of a project led by Desmond Hoare, an ex Royal Navy Officer, the college's founder headmaster along with the staff and pupils who set about creating a safe and stable inflatable vessel that would withstand the rigours of the Bristol Channel and being dragged over the rocky shingle of the college's foreshore.
The initial concept came from the student creation Psychedelic Surfer, the rigid-hulled inflatable they built to compete in Britain's first ever Round Britain Powerboat Race in 1969, which finished in nineteenth place - not bad for a vessel created in two weeks!
The college, with its seaside location, castle and picturesque grounds, is the founding member of the UWC (previously United World College) movement, and around 350 students from 70 different countries live and learn there each year. A key part of their syllabus is spent learning and providing community services - including saving lives at sea.
Following the opening of a lifeboat station at the college's shore side campus more than 40 years ago, rescue boats have been crewed by students and members of staff. The arrangement provides enthusiastic crew members and a rewarding experience for students.
After many experimental crafts were tried and tested, the B-Class Atlantic Inshore Lifeboat emerged, named in honour of the school. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution introduced this model into their fleet in 1972 and by August 1993 it had made 15,601 launches and saved 4,717 lives. The final innovation was to remove the transom - the back boards that in a standard boat keep the water out, but in the case of a RIB the removal of the transom allows water to flow out of the rear of the boat - the result, the Atlantic 21.
The RIB now on display at the Museum was built at UWC Atlantic College by the staff and students round about 2001 and the hull is made from the original Atlantic 21 fibre glass mould.
Speaking about the new acquisition, Modern and Contemporary Industry Curator, Ian Smith said: "At the Museum we tell the story of industry and innovation in Wales - the rigid-hull inflatable boat is a prime example of such innovation. We are pleased and proud to display this world renowned lifeboat and are very grateful to UWC Atlantic College for its donation. The objects that we collect today will tell the story of Welsh heritage for future generations to enjoy."
The RIB will be on display in the Museum's Frontiers Gallery until the end of May.