Originally Posted by HughN
The helos are government-funded rescue assets; the RNLI is a charity and the crew are volunteers.
I know. We don't have volunteer rescuers at sea over here. We have various volunteer organizations who look for lost hunters, hikers and such. But nothing at sea. For non-life threatening breakdowns, out-of-gas, groundings etc those are all handled by commercial towing/salvage companies.
Our Coasties have 2 different boats in common use. The surfboats which look alot like the lifeboat posted here. Those are the ones you've probably seen movies of rolling over in the surf at the Columbia bar. They are very expensive to operate apparently and somewhat slow, although faster than 25knots. Video – Coast Guard 47 Foot Motor Lifeboat Compilation | Coast Guard News
Is the Shannon lifeboat self righting? Any images of the inside? What kind of power is she using? How are the engines starting in the dry - presumably she's keel cooled to allow some coolant to be circulating in the engine before she's fully immersed? How are those jets getting enough water to power off the trailer?
The other more common type is a fast response "RIB" which uses a hard foam collar. But they very frequently deploy their helicopter assets around here, even if there's a boat nearby. They can transport medical emergencies directly to a trauma hospital if need be without screwing around offloading them from a boat to an ambulance etc. Since they are operating in near hurricane conditions here, I think you just need tougher helos
Apparently you do have rescue swimmers in the Royal Navy though. Presumably for getting downed airmen out of the ocean.