Ipswich:Fred. Olsen cruise guests fund new RNLI lifeboat

IPSWICH-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has celebrated the launch of its latest guest-funded RNLI lifeboat.

Guests on Fred. Olsen cruises have been raising funds for the lifeboat charity since the 1960s, when an RNLI volunteer first suggested the idea, and the company is now the RNLI’s longest-running corporate partner.

The new �180,000 Atlantic 85-class lifeboat, which is to be based at the Kyle of Lochalsh, in the Scottish highlands, is the fourth to the funded through the initiative and has been named Spirit of Fred. Olsen.

Donations from Fred. Olsen guests over the years have also been used to fund RNLI launching trolleys and training for its crews.

Mike Rodwell, managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “At Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, we are very proud of the commitment shown by our guests towards the RNLI, even in these difficult economic times, and we are extremely honoured to be able to name the new Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat after our company, which has been in the shipping business since 1848.”

The new lifeboat has been undergoing tests at Kyle and is now ready to respond to emergencies with a volunteer crew, 24 hours a day.

Spirit of Fred. Olsen can accommodate four crew, with an enlarged space for casualties, and is capable of speeds of up to 35 knots. It replaces the previous Atlantic 75 class boat, called Alexander Cattanach, which had been stationed at Kyle since 1997.

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The Kyle lifeboat has launched 14 times in 2011, and in 2010 it was the 12th busiest station in Scotland, with 24 launches.

Emma Martin, the RNLI’s corporate partnerships manager, said: “We are immensely proud of the partnership between Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and the RNLI, which has been built up over the last 40 years.

“The new Kyle of Lochalsh lifeboat Spirit of Fred. Olsen really highlights this, and the tremendous amount of fundraising that takes place on board Fred. Olsen’s cruise ships, which is so valuable to the charity.”