WORK has begun on the All-weather Lifeboat Centre being built at the RNLI HQ in Poole.
Once the centre is up and running - hopefully by winter next year – the charity will be able to produce its own lifeboats in-house for the first time, saving the charity more than £3M annually.
Leadbitter has secured the building contract.
Each year the ALC will produce six new all-weather lifeboats, refit seven to double each vessel's operational life, and maintain many of the 160 vessels in the current all-weather fleet.
The Shannon class lifeboats to be built at the new facility currently cost around £2M each and the charity will need to build at least 50. During their operational lives, these vessels are expected to rescue more than 56,000 people and save an estimated 1,500 lives.
The building itself, along with its fit out, will cost the charity around £14.5M.
RNLI Engineering and Supply Director David Brook says: "Bringing our lifeboat production completely in-house is vital to ensuring the future supply of fit for purpose lifeboats and I'm confident that Leadbitter will deliver what this charity needs to ensure we have the right facility to do this.
"I'd like to thank our supporters who have responded very positively towards this project and have generously donated close to £3.5M towards the centre."