Station history

Following the tragic loss of the trawler Ben Doran and 9 of her crew on 28 March 1930, on the treacherous rocks of the Vee Skerries to the west of this station, the RNLI promptly recognised the need for a lifeboat on the west side of Shetland and established a station at Aith in 1933.  The station is the most northerly of the RNLI stations in the UK, located 110 miles off the NE coast of the Scottish mainland.

1933

Watson class lifeboat K.T.J.S. (ON698) on station 2nd May to 1935.  The lifeboat cost £8,330 to build and was funded from the legacies of 4 individuals – Mr King, Mr Turnball, Mr Jesset and Mrs Sandford.

1935

Barnett class lifeboat The Rankin (ON776) on station from 12th May to 1961.

1939

The Rankin spent 27 hours continuously at sea from 6th October, searching for RAF Pinnance, then less than 48hrs later spent another 26 hours at sea searching for survivors from the Swedish naval vessel SS Vistula sunk by enemy action.

1961

Barnett class lifeboat John and Frances MacFarlane (ON956) on station from 21st January to 1986.  The lifeboat was delivered to Aith after having been exhibited at the Earls Court Boat Show.

1967

Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain John R Nicholson by HRH Princess Marina, and the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to the seven members of the crew of the John and Frances MacFarlane for their courage, skill and determination in rescuing the crew of 12 of the trawler Juniper of Aberdeen which went aground in Lyra Sound between Lyra Skerry and Papa Stour, on the night of 18/19 February.  The lifeboat launched at 0548 into weather that was overcast with sleet and rain showers, with a strong SSE wind and a choppy sea.  The coxswain took the lifeboat around the west side of Fogla Skerry and then in darkness went through a narrow channel which, although uncharted, he had been through before.  The lifeboat came alongside the trawler, twice striking her as the lifeboat rose and fell some 12/15 feet and, with some damage to the lifeboat, took off the crew of 12.

1968

Coxswain Nicholson received the Maud Smith Award for the ‘Bravest act of life saving carried out by a member of a lifeboat crew’ for the above service.

1986

Arun class lifeboat Snolda (ON1100), named after the pinnacle of rock on which the trawler Juniper was wrecked in 1967 (see above), on station from 19th July to 1997.  The lifeboat was named by the Prince and Princess of Wales in a ceremony on 25th July and required a new berthing pier, constructed at a cost of £750k.

1996

Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Hylton Henry when the lifeboat Snolda under his command rescued the crew of 11 and saved the 310 tonne Norwegian fishing vessel Vindhammer after a nine hour tow to Sullom Voe in a severe gale and heavy seas on 7 February.

A Framed Letter of Thanks signed by the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Coxswain Hylton Henry in recognition of his leadership and seamanship when the fishing vessel Radiant Star II with a crew of five was taken in tow.  The service by the lifeboat was carried out in a southerly gale and rough seas on 24 October.

1998

Severn class lifeboat Charles Lidbury (ON1232) on station from May 2nd.

2003

New shore facilities completed in May at a cost of £321,701.

2013

Hosts the Artic Expedition vessel Iceni in her last UK stop before entering the Artic Circle, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

MEDAL RECORD

Silver Medal awarded in 1967.