A new Atlantic 85 lifeboat for Rye Harbour RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

For more than 180 years the lifeboat volunteers at Rye Harbour have been helping to keep the waters safe off the south east coast of England.

Relief lifeboat Alexander

RNLI/Stephen Griffin

RNLI Atlantic 85 Alexander

Since the station was established in 1803 its courageous crew members have been awarded with no less than nine medals for gallantry, three Gold and six Silver, showing Rye Harbour has a remarkable lifesaving story filled with both courage and loss.

In 1928 the station suffered the worst lifeboat disaster in RNLI history when 17 volunteers tragically lost their lives attempting to rescue the crew of the vessel Alice of Riga during a south-west gale in Rye Bay. Their legacy lives on and new examples of bravery continue to be shown at the station year after year.

‘The Atlantic 85 is a very good lifeboat and ideal for the types of rescue we carry out here’, said Richard Tollett, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rye Harbour. ‘Our station is right in the middle of a bay and we launch straight into the River Rother, which has only around three and a half hours of high water each day, but we can still launch in less than a foot of water in the Atlantic 85. We couldn’t do that in any other RNLI lifeboat class.’

The Atlantic 85 is well equipped and the radar and track plotter proved invaluable during a number of major searches along the coastline, from Camber Sands to Dungeness, in 2016.

In 2010 the Rye Harbour crew took delivery of their Atlantic 85, Hello Herbie, thanks to a generous bequest made by Mrs Peggy Joan Staveley. Over the following five years she was launched 111 times, rescued 108 people and spent over 2,800 hours a sea on rescue and training exercises.

Just after 1am on 8 May 2015, following reports of a person calling for help in the River Rother, as the lifeboat powered towards the scene, Hello Herbie collided with an unlit, partially submerged object in the water, which caused irreparable damage to the lifeboat and injured three of the four crew members onboard. Thankfully, the crew members are now doing well and two of them have been able to return to duty. The third is hoping to return once he has made a full recovery. Since then the station has continued to operate using relief lifeboats.

A new Atlantic 85 lifeboat costs £214,000 and the lifeboat station urgently needs the public's support to raise £64,000 towards the cost for the new lifeboat at Rye Harbour lifeboat station. People's generosity will enable their volunteers to protect families around the south-east coast for many years to come.

The Rye Harbour lifeboat crew is there to help make the sea a safer place for everyone to enjoy, and with the help of supporters' they always will be.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can visit Just Giving , or text RHLB85 £10 to 70070.

RNLI media contacts

  • Steve Griffin, RNLI Rye Harbour Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, 07710 297606/ steve.griffin.rnli@outlook.com
  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/South East/East), 0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 / tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825, paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.