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There are currently six classes of all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI fleet: Shannon; Tamar; Severn; Trent; Tyne; and Mersey.

Developed by the RNLI in the early 1990s, the first Trent class lifeboat was introduced in 1994 at Alderney, with a maximum speed of 25 knots, propeller protection and a range of 250 nautical miles.

As an all-weather lifeboat, the Trent class can operate safely in all weathers and is inherently self-righting. She is designed to lie afloat, either at deep-water moorings or at a berth, and was last built in 2003.

Key features

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

The Trent class lifeboat was one of the first ‘hard chine’ hull design for the RNLI. She has the same geometric hull shape as the Severn class and has a sheerline that sweeps down for ease of survivor recovery.

In the Trent, the engine room is aft but space limitations led to a novel approach in which one of the twin MAN diesel engines is turned around, driving the propeller in a conventional manner, while the other works through a 'V' drive.

Her propellers and rudders lie in partial tunnels set into the hull that, along with the two bilge keels, provide excellent protection from damage in shallow water.

The comprehensive electronics include VHF and MF radios with DSC functionality, VHF direction finder, DGPS with electronic chart system and radar.

The Trent class carries a small XP boat, an inflatable daughter boat with a 5hp outboard engine capable of 6 knots. This small craft is used to access areas where the lifeboat cannot reach.

Comprehensive first aid equipment includes stretchers, oxygen and Entonox.

Other equipment includes a portable salvage pump carried in a watertight container. 

Image of Wick’s Trent class lifeboat. Photo: Ken Crossan

Date introduced:


Launch type:


Number in fleet:

29 at stations plus 8 in relief fleet​

Last built:











28 tonnes​

Max speed:

25 knots​

Fuel capacity:

4,180 litres​


250 nautical miles​


Hull: epoxy fibre-reinforced composite with 100mm thick foam-cored sandwich;

Deck and superstructure: 25mm foam-cored sandwich​


2 x MAN 2840 marine diesel; 850hp each at 2,300rpm

Survivor capacity:

Self-righting – 20

Non self-righting – 73 ​

Image of Dunbar’s Trent class lifeboat crew helping to transfer a casualty from a yacht. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Abandoned ship

Five French fishermen took to their liferaft in the early hours of Tuesday 8 March when their 17m trawler Cap Lizard ran aground half a mile from Alderney.

The island’s Trent class lifeboat Roy Barker I launched at 1.45am, arrived on scene 10 minutes later, and had the fishermen and their liferaft safely aboard by 2.10am.

RNLI helps save dolphin

An RNLI crew has been praised for helping to save the life of a dolphin.

The small female dolphin got trapped in the River Tay in Perth on 19 May and, as the water fell, she became disorientated and started thrashing about in panic. A complex rescue ensued, involving a host of parties including Broughty Ferry lifeboat crew.

The dolphin was rushed to the shores of Broughty Ferry, where the all-weather lifeboat Elizabeth of Glamis took it onboard and out to sea, where it was placed safely back into the water. Two crew members went into the deep water with the dolphin to settle it before release.

  • Whitby Image of Whitby’s Trent class lifeboat in surf. Photo: Doug Jackson
  • Troon Image of Troon’s Trent class lifeboat in rough seas. Photo: Richard Whitson
  • Portree Image of Portree’s Trent class lifeboat working with helicopter crew.
  • Arklow Image of Arklow’s Trent class lifeboat and crew. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
  • Dunbar Image of Dunbar’s Trent class lifeboat. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
  • Wick Image of Wick’s Trent class lifeboat. Photo: Ken Crossan
  • Dunbar Image of Dunbar’s Trent class lifeboat crew helping to transfer a casualty from a yacht. Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
  • Portree Image of Portree Trent class lifeboat on her mooring. Photo: Neil Campbell