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B class (Atlantic)

​RNLI lifeboats can be divided into two categories: inshore and all-weather. The B class lifeboat is one of three classes of inshore lifeboat (ILB) – the B, D and E classes. The B class usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats, in shallower water, close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves.

There are two types of B class lifeboat – the Atlantic 75 and the Atlantic 85.

The name Atlantic is derived from Atlantic College in Wales, where the rigid inflatable B class was first developed. ‘75’ and ‘85’ are derived from a length of nearly 7.5m and 8.5m respectively.


The Atlantic 75 was introduced into the fleet in 1993 and the Atlantic 85 in 2005.

In 2010, B class lifeboats launched 2,995 times and rescued 2,942 people, saving 101 lives.

Key features

  • Systems and information Management system
  • Self righting
  • Righting and restarting
  • Navigation and communication

Fast, manoeuvrable and very reliable, the B class operates in rough weather conditions, capable in daylight up to force 7 and at night to force 6.

Atlantic 75

The Atlantic 75 carries communication and electronic navigation aids, including VHF radio, DGPS and electronic chart, hand-held VHF, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and parachute illuminating rocket flares for night-time operations. 

In the event of a capsize, a crew member activates a gas bottle to inflate the self-righting bag and the lifeboat turns upright in a few seconds.

Atlantic 85

The Atlantic 85 design allows room for four crew members and more kit than the Atlantic 75 lifeboat.

She is powered by two 115hp engines and has a stronger hull and greater top speed. The added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and she also has VHF direction-finding equipment.

A manually operated self-righting mechanism combined with two 115hp 4-stroke inversion-proofed engines keep her operational even after capsize. She is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to engines or steering gear.

The Atlantic 85 carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, including VHF radio, VHF direction finding, intercom, DGPS and electronic chart, radar and hand-held VHF, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and illuminating paraflares for night-time operations.  

​B class - Atlantic 75

​B class - Atlantic 85

Date introduced:



Launch type:

​Carriage, davit or floating boathouse

​Carriage, davit or floating boathouse

Number in fleet:

​54 at station plus 19 in relief fleet

​38 at station plus 11 in relief fleet














​1.6 tonnes

​1.8 tonnes

Max speed:

​32 knots

​35 knots

Fuel capacity:

​182 litres

​210 litres


​2.5 hours

​2.5 hours


​Hull – polyester glass-reinforced fibre, with marine plywood stiffening

Inflatable collar – hypalon-coated nylon

​Hull – carbon fibre and foam core laminate, structure includes epoxy glass and foam sandwich layup

Inflatable collar: hypalon-coated nylon


​2 x Yamaha; 75hp each

​2 x Yamaha 4-stroke; 115hp each

Survivor capacity:




Image of Statihes and Runswick Atlantic 75 in surf - Dave Manship

Atlantic 75

Medal for St Abbs volunteer

A volunteer lifeboat crew member from St Abbs is to receive the RNLI’s Bronze Medal for Gallantry after he swam 20m into a sea cave in rough conditions and rescued an injured angler.

Helm Darren Crowe (pictured), a 39-year-old fisherman, launched the St Abbs inshore lifeboat along with his brother and uncle after the angler, Simon Halston, was swept off a rock and into the cave.

Darren managed to swim into the cave and get Simon onto his back. Then Darren inflated his lifejacket and he and Simon were towed back out by a line attached to the lifeboat. Darren’s uncle, Alistair Crowe, and brother, James Crowe, pulled the pair aboard.

Simon was taken to hospital and later said: ‘If the RNLI had not been there I would have died that day. I just cannot thank them enough.’

Darren will be presented with the Bronze Medal in recognition of his courage and skill that day. Alistair and James are to receive a Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the RNLI Chairman.

David Wilson, a lifeboat crew member who was aboard a fishing vessel when he spotted Simon's fall and alerted the Coastguard, will receive a Letter of Appreciation signed by the RNLI’s Chief Executive.

Image of Brighton’s B class lifeboat escorting a yacht. A lifeboat crew member was transferred onboard to help pull the skipper Man overboard

There can be few scarier things than being swept off your own boat by mountainous seas.

Dan Oliver was fortunate to have been wearing both a lifejacket and safety line when a large wave washed him from the deck of his 10m yacht, battling 35–40-knot winds and 4m waves en route to Brighton Marina on 26 May.

The crew had been lowering the sails when they saw the skipper disappear into the water. They were unable to retrieve him in such savage conditions, so they broadcast a Mayday distress call.

Within 7 minutes, Brighton’s B class lifeboat Thelma Glossop had launched and a further 10 minutes brought them into close proximity to the yacht.

Just 3 minutes later, a volunteer crew member had been transferred to the yacht and the skipper was safely lifted back onboard. With the situation now under control, the lifeboat escorted the yacht through the marina entrance and into a visitor’s berth.

Given the horrendous conditions, RNLI Newhaven’s Severn class lifeboat David and Elizabeth Acland (pictured), the Solent Coastguard helicopter and multiple mobile Coastguard rescue units were also called to assist.

A spokesman for RNLI Brighton praised the crew of the yacht: ‘During this extremely stressful incident in hostile conditions, they managed to remain calm throughout.

‘This incident highlights dramatically the importance of wearing a lifejacket and safety

line when working on the deck of a yacht in these conditions.’

Atlantic 85

Image of Hayling Island’s Atlantic 85 launching into choppy seas. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard11-hour struggle

After 11 hours at sea, struggling to make headway in gale force winds, the skipper of the yacht Doxy called Solent Coastguard to ask for help.

Hayling Island’s B class Atlantic 85 launched into the teeth of the gale but Helm Peter Hanscombe couldn’t steer a straight course due to the beam-on rolling waves. With ‘waves like blocks of flats’ coming at them, an unusually large wave, estimated at 8–9m, lifted them vertically. As they came back down, the stern was buried in a foaming mass. The crew heard the piecing klaxon of the man-overboard alarm and for one brief second thought the worst. Thankfully, Crew Member Jasper Graham-Jones was still on the fourth crew seat.

The violent movement had reduced the engines’ power, so Peter had to work the throttles to restore full power quickly.

The Atlantic then came alongside the yacht. The two casualties were cold, tired and a little frightened, drained by the yacht's relentless pitching and rolling.

They towed the yacht towards Gosport Marina, but with winds at gale force, they requested that Bembridge all-weather Tyne class lifeboat assist them.

The crews worked quickly and confidently and although progress, at 4 knots, was slow, Bembridge towed them to Portsmouth Harbour and Hayling Island then escorted the yacht to Gosport Marina. The casualties were very grateful to see Hayling lifeboat and eventually dry land.

  • Macduff Image of Macduff Atlantic 85
  • Lough Swilly Lough Swilly Atalntic 85 - Gregory Clarke
  • Teignmouth Image of Teignmouth’s Atlantic 85 B class lifeboat.
  • Kinsale Image of launching Kinsale’s B class lifeboat using a davit. Photo: RNLI/Eleanor Driscoll
  • Silloth Image of Silloth Atlantic 85 from stern - Martin Fish
  • Poole Image of Poole’s Atlantic 85 and lifeboat crew righting a capsized yacht. Photo: Dave Riley
  • Atlantic 75 Image of relief Atlantic 75 on exercise. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
  • Trearddur Bay Trearddur Bay Atlantic 85 launching from DoDo ccarriage - Nathan Williams
  • St Bees Image of St Bees Atlantic 85 in surf. Photo: Roy Jones
  • Hayling Island Image of Hayling Island’s Atlantic 85 launching into choppy seas. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
  • Lymington Lymington Atlantic 75 rescuing kayaker and kayak - Isla Reynolds
  • Brighton Image of Brighton’s B class lifeboat escorting a yacht. A lifeboat crew member was transferred onboard to help pull the skipper back onboard after he had fallen overboard. Photo: Eddie Mitchell
  • Porthcawl Image of recovery of Porthcawl Atlantic 85 - Nigel Millard
  • Kinsale Kinsale Atlantic 75 launched by davit - Nigel Millard
  • Kilrush Kilrush Atlantic 85 - Nicholas Leach
  • Mudeford Image of Mudeford’s Atlantic 75 assisting a broken down motorboat.
  • New Brighton New Brighton Atlantic 85 launching from carriage - Bob Warwick
  • Criccieth Criccieth Atlantic 85 being recovered in carriage - Martin Fish
  • Aberdovey Image of Aberdovey’s Atlantic 75. Photo: Martin Fish
  • Looe Image of Looe’s Atlantic 75 towing a yacht back into the harbour. Photo: Richard Clubley
  • Launching vehicle Image of Kyle of Lochalsh B class lifeboat with launching vehicle and carriage. Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams
  • Lymington assisting kayakers Image of Lymington’s Atlantic 75 on exercise rescuing kayakers. Photo: Duncan Smith