The RNLI celebrates the lifesaving 60th anniversary of its Inshore Lifeboats.

Lifeboats News Release

Introduced in 1963, the inshore lifeboat continues to be an invaluable asset in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) fleet as new figures show the charity’s Inshore lifeboats have saved 30,778* lives across 60 years.

Lifeboat at sea in the bay

RNLI/Richard Martin

Newbiggin Atlantic 85 'Richard Wake Burdon'

The inshore lifeboat has enabled the charity’s volunteer crews to carry out their lifesaving work closer to shore, in areas inaccessible to other lifeboats in the fleet. Designed to be quick and manoeuvrable, inshore lifeboats can operate in shallower water, near cliffs and rocks meaning crews can get as close as possible to those in trouble.

In 1981 Newbiggin received its first inshore lifeboat and the inshore lifeboats here, since that time, have gone on to launch 471 times to date.

Newbiggin has had their Atlantic 85 B Class inshore lifeboat Richard Wake Burdon saving lives at sea since 19 September 2012 when it arrived at the station to continue our proud history of sea rescue which began in 1851.

Les Fayers, deputy launch authority at Newbiggin, said:

‘Over the years our inshore lifeboats here have enabled our volunteer crew to offer a rapid response along our challenging coastline. During early 1981 there was the transition here from the larger slower offshore lifeboat and into the new era of the Atlantic class to provide a 24/7 search and rescue platform.'

Mark Kelly, helm at Newbiggin RNLI lifeboat station said:

‘The Atlantic 85 lifeboat is a very capable lifeboat to work with and our dedicated volunteer team here have the confidence in this workhorse of the RNLI fleet.'

The RNLI builds and maintains most of its inshore lifeboats in house at their Inshore Lifeboat Centre in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. This allows the charity to have greater control over costs and quality ensuring they produce the best lifesaving asset for their crews and spend their supporters’ donations in the most efficient and effective way.

For more information about our Inshore Lifeboats, click here.

Notes to editors:

For more information please telephone Richard Martin, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Newbiggin on 07980 010544 or [email protected]. Alternatively contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789 who will be able to assist also.

If you would like to find out more about Newbiggin lifeboat station, its volunteers and its heritage then take a look at the local website.

· *Statistics taken from 1963 – 2 May 2023. Includes lifesaving statistics from our Atlantic 85, D class and E class lifeboats, launches of our daughter boats from the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats and models of inshore lifeboats that are no longer part of the RNLI fleet.

Atlantic 85 lifeboat

· The current generation of B class lifeboat is called the Atlantic 85 – named after the Atlantic College in Wales where these rigid inflatable lifeboats (RIBs) were first developed. 85 represents its length – nearly 8.5m. The lifeboat is both day and night capable and can operate in weather up to a Beaufort Force 7.

· There have been three generations of B class lifeboat. The first one was the Atlantic 21, the first RIB to join the RNLI fleet. It served from 1972 until 2008.

· The Atlantic 21 was then replaced by the Atlantic 75, which was in service from 1993 until 2022. It has now been replaced by the Atlantic 85, which was introduced to the fleet in 2005.

· The introduction of the first rigid inflatable lifeboat (RIB) – the Atlantic 21 – into the RNLI fleet back in 1972 revolutionised lifesaving at sea.

· The speed, manoeuvrability, agility and versatility of these RIBs dramatically improved the efficiency and effectiveness of our search and rescue service. All three generations of our Atlantic lifeboats have helped us to save thousands of lives at sea

· When it comes to responding to a lifesaving task, the Atlantic 85 lifeboat is one of the fastest in the fleet; her top speed is 35 knots powered by two 115hp 4-stroke engines.

Lifeboat at sea

RNLI/Richard Martin

Newbiggin Atlantic 75 'CSMA 75th Anniversary'
Lifeboat preparing to recover

RNLI/Richard Martin

Newbiggin Atlantic 75 'CSMA 75th Anniversary'
Lifeboat heading out to sea

RNLI/Ian Davison

Newbiggin Atlantic 85 'Richard Wake Burdon'

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.