RNLI drafts in Mercedes-Benz Actros to help launch boats25 February 2010

Latest addition to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's specialist vehicle fleet is also its first heavy tractor unit – a Mercedes-Benz Actros plated for Special Types at 72 tonnes gcw.

RNLI transport manager David Tidman says the Actros 2546 MegaSpace is now working with a low-loader trailer, delivering boats weighing up to 27 tonnes to lifeboat stations and repair yards.

Items of heavy plant also pulled by the new rig can weigh up to 35 tonnes, he says, and he adds that it is also used to move launch and recovery tractors to and from lifeboat stations.

Some of these tractors, which tow lifeboat trailers into and out of the sea, weigh only six tonnes, so the Actros can transport two at a time while working within standard 44-tonne gross weight limits.

Others are waterproofed and heavily plated for extra stability in rough seas. These marine-specification tractors weigh 20 tonnes each, so, under Special Types provisions, only one can be carried at a time.

"We were previously subcontracting our heavy vehicle and plant movements," explains Tidman, "so this new [truck] will help us to increase efficiency and improve productivity."

This standard spec Actros includes Mercedes' PowerShift 2 automated transmission. SB Components, of Wisbech, removed the vehicle's 450-litre fuel tank and replaced it with two tanks having a combined capacity of 810 litres.

The Mercedes-Benz Actros was delivered to the RNLI's HQ in Poole by local dealer Pentagon Commercials.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
SB Components (International) Ltd
Volvo Group UK Ltd

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