Mk1 E class
Introduced in 2002, the E class inshore lifeboat is the fastest lifeboat in the fleet and is used solely on the River Thames.
Operating in both daylight and darkness, it is a fast response craft, developed for use with waterjets that give it excellent manoeuvrability in the rapidly moving river flow.
The E class features a working platform at the stern that makes it easier to recover survivors from the water.
In the unlikely event of a capsize, she can be righted by a manually activated system using a bag on top of the roll bar – similar to the B class.
The equipment includes radar, GPS with electronic chart, VHF radio, police radio, blue lights, siren and night-vision equipment.
Towed inflatable rescue craft are also strategically positioned along the river and can be attached to the E class to accommodate a further 60 survivors whenever necessary.
Mk2 E class
The next generation of E class lifeboat can now be seen on the Thames. Hurley Burly is the first of three new E class lifeboats to be shared by Tower and Chiswick Lifeboat Stations. Two more are due to join our fleet in the Winter.
The new lifeboats will comfortably reach top speeds of 40 knots, making them the fastest in the RNLI fleet. They are designed for improved crew comfort, safety and ergonomics, for example the front seats are adaptable for crew members of differing heights. Modifications have also been made to improve endurance and reliability for heavy use.
Hurley Burly and her sisters were designed by the RNLI’s own engineers in conjunction with Liverpool-based expert RIB builder Marine Specialist Technology Ltd. Lifeboat crews were consulted throughout the project, giving their views on how the original E class could be improved.
Waterjet-powered E class lifeboats are unique to Tower and Chiswick, where the types of casualty and river conditions mean speed is of the utmost importance. Tower Lifeboat Station was the RNLI’s busiest last year, launching 491 times. Chiswick lifeboats launched 229 times.