A new career for Margate’s former Mersey class lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

When it retired from active service at Margate in April 2021, the town’s Mersey class RNLI all-weather lifeboat faced an uncertain future but RNLB Leonard Kent has now been allocated to a new home at Newcastle Co. Down in Northern Ireland where it will continue its lifesaving work.

'Leonard Kent' during its time at Margate lifeboat station (RNLI Margate)

RNLI Margate

'Leonard Kent' during its time at Margate lifeboat station (RNLI Margate)

People often ask what happens to old lifeboats when they are replaced. They may become part of the RNLI’s relief fleet, covering at stations while their own lifeboat is away for refits etc. They may find a new home with overseas lifeboat organisations or sold ‘out of service’ for other roles, in fact Leonard Kent’s predecessor the Rother class lifeboat RNLB Silver Jubilee is now privately-owned in New York State USA, preserved in virtually the same condition and livery as when it was a serving lifeboat at Margate.

Leonard Kent initially spent some time at the RNLI Support Centre at Poole but was considered worthy of further service and subsequently earmarked to replace Newcastle’s existing Mersey class lifeboat from where it will operate until building work at the station has been completed and their new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat has arrived. Leonard Kent was moved to a boatyard at West Cowes on the Isle of Wight and treated to a life-extension programme including upgrading the electronics to the latest Systems and Information Management System (SIMS). Leonard Kent would have been familiar with its surroundings having been built at the then FBM Marine shipyard at Cowes in1992.

After a trip from Poole to Northern Ireland by both road and sea, Margate’s loyal and much-loved Mersey class lifeboat will soon once again be saving lives at sea, this time the Irish Sea.

Derek Amas, Lifeboat Operations Manager, Margate RNLI said: “It was a sad occasion when Leonard Kent launched for the last time from Margate but it is rewarding so see it continuing its life saving work. The lifeboat was much loved by the crew, bringing them safely back to their families for nearly 30 years, we send our very best wishes to everyone at Newcastle and hope their new lifeboat continues its faithful service at its new home.”


Notes to editors

· Margate lifeboat station has been operating since 1860. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/margate-lifeboat-station

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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 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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