GIF: RNLI

Lifeboats are great and all. If your regular ship is sinking, a lifeboat is what you NEED. But could they be better? Could they be more? Could they have suspension in the seats and be impossible to capsize? The Shannon is a boat built by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution that is a Batman’s utility belt of lifeboats, capable, basically, of anything.

As this video explains, the Shannon is the first lifeboat to be powered by water jets, not propellers, meaning that it can turn on a dime and also ground itself with no issue. It can also be launched from the beach and reach a top speed of 25 knots, or about 29 mph.

Another neat feature? It is self-righting:

I think what impresses me most is the shock-absorbing seats. I mean, first responders are badasses in their own right and probably would pretend not to need them, but it’s a nice touch.

Here’s another video showing how the RNLI did it all, in part by designing a hull that would soften impacts and stabilize things on rough seas. Facts we learn: Step five of the process was literally “Test It Hard.” The shock-absorbing seats were inspired by Formula One cars. The Shannon was named for an Irish river, the longest river in Ireland.

The RNLI is a nonprofit charity dedicated to saving lives in the seas surrounding the British isles, as well as Ireland, founded nearly 200 years ago. It is something like the anti-Baywatch, with fully-clothed, square-jawed men and women stoically rescuing people from the dangerous, cold waters that surround Britain.

The best parts of this are the boat launches, of course. Also, just noting that one of the boats is named for “Field Marshal and Mrs. Smuts.”

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Hell yeah. In a bleak world, it’s reassuring to be reminded that organizations with such altruistic missions still exist, and are still getting better.