Chiswick's E Class lifeboat shows why pulling power is vital on the Thames

Lifeboats News Release

During the hot summer the Chiswick RNLI lifeboat was called to a number of vessels in difficulties. With 870 horsepower from twin diesel engines the E class lifeboat, is capable of towing large steel barges weighing over 90 tons, while the water jet propulsion allows gentle and accurate manoeuvring.

The E-Class, which was specially designed for work in the capital proved its worth in August when a large dutch barge lost power near Barnes. A 90 ton vessel drifting with the tide is a serious hazard to other river users. The crew were able to set up an alongside tow and easily take the barge to a safe mooring despite the huge difference in size. A few days later the crew had to recover a 2 storey houseboat which had came adrift.

A week later a motor cruiser lost power off Strand on the Green but there was a fast running incoming tide sweeping it towards Kew Bridge. The quick thinking skipper immediately deployed the anchor and the vessel came to a stop a few metres from the bridge abutments. In this position the vessel was an obstruction for other river traffic passing through the central arch of the bridge.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crew set up an alongside tow, helped the boat’s crew raise the anchor and took it to safety at Chiswick Quay Marina.

Helmsman Tony Coe commented ‘The hot summer weather this year brought many more people onto the Thames in a range of craft. We would encourage anyone taking a vessel onto the river to ensure it is well maintained as it is very easy to get caught out by the swift currents. The RNLI has many sea safety volunteers who advise boat owners on safety equipment and boat checks as well as running lifejacket clinics. Anyone can contact the RNLI to find out more:

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since The RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people. The RNLI is entirely funded by public donations.

RNLI media contacts

  • David Clarke RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825,
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI/Alex Trylski

Chiswick Lifeboat assisting broken down barge
Houseboat under tow


Houseboat under tow

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, in a normal year, 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 by email.