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TWI Inspects Whole Lifeboat with Digital Radiography

Fri, 01 April, 2022

TWI has completed a digital radiograph of an entire lifeboat. The work which was undertaken by TWI Wales is expected to be the first time digital radiography has been used to visualise the interior of an entire boat in a single image.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) have been operating Shannon class lifeboats since 2013 and, since 2017, all Shannon class lifeboats entering service have been built at the RNLI’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) in Poole, Dorset.

Digital radiography can be used to inspect complex composite joints during the manufacturing process as well as for through life inspections and repair, allowing for the speedy and versatile evaluation of a structure, often providing information regarding its construction and through life performance that had never been available before.

Digital radiography delivers high quality images that can resolve down to small imperfections in a manufacturing process. These images can then be evaluated to enable process improvements to be made.


You may have realised that, with today being April Fool’s Day, while we did inspect an entire lifeboat using digital radiography, it wasn’t a full size one.

Maybe the screws gave the joke away, but the lifeboat we inspected was actually a toy one (belonging to the son of TWI principal project leader, Alan Clarke)!

However, we have previously undertaken digital radiography on a full-sized lifeboat, inspecting the primary structural joint between the hull and the deck/wheelhouse (rather than the entire structure!).

Working with the RNLI, we used digital radiography to evaluate hull-to-deck joints, providing invaluable information on the techniques used during construction of composite-to-composite joins, and guiding manufacturing improvements for this respected lifesaving organisation.

You can find out more about how we performed factory-based digital radiographic inspection on a real RNLI lifeboat, here.

For more information please email: