1988: The Mersey class lifeboat

The Mersey class lifeboat – the RNLI’s first fast carriage lifeboat - is a lightweight sea-going boat designed for launching from the beach.
Swanage RNLI's Mersey class lifeboat, Robert Charles Brown, in 2014

Photo: Rob Inett

Swanage RNLI’s Mersey class lifeboat, Robert Charles Brown, in 2014

The Mersey class lifeboat – the RNLI’s first fast carriage lifeboat – is a lightweight sea-going boat designed for launching from the beach.

Capable of 17.5 knots, this 12m-long all-weather lifeboat can also operate off a slipway or lie afloat.

First launched from Hastings Beach in July 1988, the aluminium-hulled Mersey – later changed to fibre-reinforced plastic – is inherently self-righting.

The propellers and rudders lie in partial tunnels set into the hull. These, along with the main and two bilge keels, provide protection from damage in shallow water or slipway operations. The mast and aerials can be collapsed to fit into a boathouse.

Thirty-seven Mersey lifeboats were built between 1988 and 1994. Popular with her crews, the Mersey was the final piece of the jigsaw in our plan to complete the introduction of fast lifeboats by 1993.

The next-generation Shannon class all-weather lifeboat is gradually replacing the Mersey class. The Mersey’s replacement provides us with a 25 knot-capable all-weather lifeboat fleet.