Lifesavers from RNLI’s busiest station move to temporary new home

Lifeboats News Release

The crew of Tower Lifeboat Station have moved to a temporary facility so they can continue saving lives whilst their new station is completed.

Three crew members and a representative for HMS President appear in front of Tower Bridge


L-R Volunteer crew member Hannah Liptrot, Thames Commander Chris Cotterill, Commander Greg Young and Thames Commander Stephen King.

Lifeboat crew from Tower RNLI have left their old station near Victoria Embankment and will operate from the new temporary base at HMS PRESIDENT – the Royal Naval Reserve’s training facility in London.

HMS PRESIDENT is situated in the shadow of Tower Bridge in the heart of London and the crew will be based there until the new station goes on service in April 2023.

The dedicated full-time Thames Commanders and volunteer crew will still maintain their vital 24/7 life-saving service on the Thames whilst the new permanent facilities are completed.

On their first full day at the station on Monday (January 9) the crew received three call outs for their assistance.

The old station near Waterloo Bridge, now off service, has an E-class lifeboat and a relief boat especially designed for the Thames.

The floating station had been operational for 16 years – with parts of the pontoon dating back to the Victorian era when it was used by the Metropolitan Police.

The impressive history of the station began following the tragedy of the pleasure boat Marchioness in 1989 in which 51 people lost their lives after a collision with a dredger. An inquiry following the tragedy recommended the need for a dedicated rescue service on the Thames.

Since 2002 the Tower lifeboat crew have launched 9,669 times, saving 376 people across 16 miles of the tidal Thames.

The age and unique floating design of the current station has meant it has become structurally unfit for purpose.

Thanks to generous donations – including £3.5million from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Officer’s Association following the sale of the Naval Club in Mayfair – Tower RNLI's new station is nearing completion, ready to meet the challenges of keeping London safe for generations to come.

The new station, which will provide the crew and casualties facilities fit for the future, is due to be floated into position in March at the same site as the old station and is due to go on service in April.

Thames Commander Stephen King, whose father was based at HMS President in 1959 when he was serving in the Royal Navy, said: ‘Tower RNLI is a 24-hour station ready to launch within 90 seconds.

'We are incredibly proud of our history as well as our hardworking and dedicated crew and feel that they deserve the best facilities we can offer when they are launching in difficult conditions.

'The brand-new station will have much needed improvements such as private, purpose-built spaces for casualty care, a drying room for kit and a new area for visitors.

'We are grateful to HMS PRESIDENT for allowing us to continue our vital work in the meantime and look forward to settling into our new facilities once they are complete.

'We’d like to reassure people that we are continuing to run our lifesaving service as normal along the Thames – and remember if they get into trouble to ring 999 and ask for the Coastguard.'

Commander Greg Young, Commanding Officer of HMS PRESIDENT, said: 'As neighbours and regular users of the Thames for waterborne training purposes, we are delighted to host staff and volunteers of Tower RNLI as they continue to provide their hugely important services while they prepare to move to their new facility in April.'

Over the last 20 years Tower RNLI has carried out some incredible rescues including:

· Saving a woman and her dog in imminent danger of drowning.

· Rescuing a Harris’s Hawk.

· Entering the water to save a man from imminent danger seconds after he fell below the surface of the water.

The current RNLI Tower station is due to be floated down the river later this month to make way for the new facilities.

It will be used by Thames Marine Services on the Monarch Pier, Erith, where it will be used as one of six electrical charging facilities on the Thames as part of Net Zero Marine Services.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact [email protected] / 07724801305

Two representatives from the RNLI and HMS President appear stood outside the building.


L-R Commanding Officer of HMS PRESIDENT Greg Young and RNLI Thames Commander Stephen King outside HMS PRESIDENT
Tower's lifeboat in action

RNLI/Harrison Bates

Tower RNLI's lifeboat - the Hurley Burly - in action
Tower lifeboat in action

RNLI/Laura Lewis

Tower lifeboat Hearn Medicine Chest on the River Thames

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 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.

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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.