Work will begin tomorrow (Monday, November 1) on extending the Exmouth RNLI slipway to enable the safe launching of its all-weather Shannon-class lifeboat.
The charity says ‘significant sand movement’ at the bottom of the structure has meant that the R and J Welburn has been unable to use it.
The vessel has been moored in the Exe Estuary.
And the town’s D-class inshore lifeboat, George Bearman II, is currently operating from a secondary launch site on Exmouth promenade.
Volunteer lifeboat crew members have continued to use the station on Queen’s Drive.
An Exmouth RNLI spokesperson said: “Subsequent ground investigations and designs have been submitted and the necessary approvals obtained, and the charity will now be carrying out work to extend the current launch ramp by ten metres out to sea.
“Roughly five metres will be buried into the beach sand and beyond to ensure further erosion doesn’t impact our lifesaving service.
“The RNLI has phased the works to start after East Devon District Council completed the installation of new beach access steps.
“This means, whilst a section of beach will be closed off around the ramp works, access to the beach can be maintained for pedestrians via the steps or the council slipways.
“Station access will be maintained throughout for volunteer crew to respond to shouts.
“The ramp extension will ensure the Shannon lifeboat can return to the boathouse on Queen’s Drive and utilise its specially-designed launch and recovery system to access the water.
“The works are expected to take 16 weeks from commencement on site with the Shannon returning to the boathouse after commissioning and testing in early 2022.
“The inshore lifeboat will continue to operate from its secondary launch site on Exmouth promenade throughout the duration of the work and will also resume service from the extended ramp once complete.
“In addition to the extension, the RNLI will also repair a piece of the sea wall underneath the building which has been undermined.
“Permissions are currently being sought from the necessary authorities to allow the RNLI to carry out this additional work.”