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How we operate

We provide lifeboats, a seasonal lifeguard service, coastal safety, and research and education programmes.

A Severn class lifeboat and a Shannon class lifeboat are side-by-side on a calm sea, with lifeboat crew members stood on the bows

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Portrush RNLI's Severn class and Lough Swilly RNLI's Shannon class lifeboats out on a joint training exercise

In the UK and Ireland the RNLI provides:

  • a strategically located fleet of all-weather lifeboats, which are available at all times, and tactically placed inshore craft, which are subject to weather limitations
  • a lifeguard service on a seasonal basis
  • coastal safety, research and education programmes.

Internationally we work with like-minded organisations to:

  • raise awareness of the significant global drowning problem
  • grow prevention and rescue capacity within high-risk communities.

The problem: Why we need to save more lives

Despite our best efforts, people around our coastline still drown. In the UK there were around 170 drownings and coastal fatalities in 2013, and Ireland faces similar challenges. Inland, a further 450 are estimated to be at risk of suicide. And global drowning is an epidemic that requires international attention.

The solution


To save more lives, we need to work more effectively in partnership with other organisations, and identify how we can influence lifesaving through policy-makers and regulators.


We can prevent more tragedies through the expansion of the lifeguard service around the UK and Ireland – and help international communities to set up their own lifeguard services.


While maintaining our core, world-class lifeboat and lifeguard services, we will further develop our relationship with other search and rescue organisations in the UK and Ireland to help save more lives.


Our education work can save more lives by promoting safety through behaviour change campaigns, products and messages, and by working more closely with communities.