Inshore Rescue Hovercraft H-005 'Hurley Spirit'
The RNLI Inshore Rescue Hovercraft H-005 'Hurley Spirit' is currently on temporary service at Hoylake Lifeboat Station.
Introduced in 2002, the hovercraft has extended the RNLI’s ability to carry out its vital rescue work to areas inaccessible to conventional lifeboats.
Typically, the hovercraft operates on large areas of tidal mudflats or sand where the surface is too soft to support land vehicles and the water too shallow for boats and is particularly useful for shoreline searches. Each year, these areas see a number of incidents where people are caught out by the rising tide or trapped in quicksand or soft mud. Unless help is provided rapidly, such situations result in tragedy.
Until recently, the only method of rapid access to these areas has been by helicopter, and surface access has been limited to walking, using mud mats and crawling boards.
Hovercraft can rapidly search large areas of mud, sand and shallow water. Lift is provided by two fans that build up air pressure under the craft, and thrust by two large fans mounted on the back that act in the same way as aeroplane propellers. Steering is provided by aerofoil-shaped rudders located at the rear and the height of the craft's skirt improves its sea-keeping and increases its ride height.
Once the casualty has been located, the hovercraft can settle alongside and provide a large, stable platform. The two inflatable sponsons provide stability and additional buoyancy and offer a soft edge for casualty recovery.
The hovercraft carries specialised mud rescue equipment to release a trapped casualty as well as basic first aid equipment.
Find out more on the RNLI website.