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50th Anniversary of RNLI workhorses

Lifeboats News Release

The workhorses of the RNLI fleet, the D class inshore lifeboats, have been saving lives for many years. Next week marks the 50th anniversary, since the first inshore lifeboat (ILB) arrived at Fleetwood RNLI.

The first ILB was unnamed, but numbered No.91 and arrived for a summer season at the beginning of May, 1966. Since then, five more ILBs, the latest named Mary Elizabeth Barnes, have been ‘on service’ at Fleetwood, working alongside the larger all-weather lifeboat.

Their arrival in 1966 helped save the lives of around 120 people and they’ve been involved in almost 1,000 rescue operations in the past 50 years.

The D class ILBs have a crew of either two or three and can reach speeds of 25 knots, making it a vital asset to the volunteer lifeboat crew at Fleetwood, especially when rescuing bathers or walkers cut off by incoming tides.

Captain Dave Eccles, RNLI Fleetwood Lifeboat Operations Manager said ‘’The introduction of the RNLI inshore lifeboat has ensured many more lives have been saved by the volunteer lifeboat crews, around our shores.’’

RNLI media contact

For more information contact Ken Harcombe, Fleetwood RNLI Press Officer 07970197195

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland