Changes to maintain lifesaving service at Aldeburgh and Happisburgh RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) can today announce that the Mersey-class all-weather lifeboat (ALB) in Aldeburgh will be replaced by an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, and the Atlantic 85 in Happisburgh will be removed while retaining the existing D Class inshore lifeboat (ILB).

Picture shows Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station from the beach with the roller shutter door open against a blue sky

RNLI/Bridge Aherne

Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station

Both stations will receive investment, support, and training to ensure new ways of operating maintain and improve the service at both locations to save lives for many years to come.

The decisions have been made after an evidence-based process involving both lifeboat stations and were approved by RNLI Trustees last week.

Amber French, the charity’s Area Lifesaving Manager for both stations, said: ‘The Mersey-class, all-weather lifeboat at Aldeburgh will soon reach the end of its operational service.

‘Meanwhile, Happisburgh lifeboat station is facing severe challenges caused by worsening coastal erosion which has left its volunteers facing difficulties to safely launch their lifeboats. This issue has been compounded by a shortage of qualified crew.

‘So the RNLI undertook a joint lifesaving effect review with our volunteers, staff and wider lifeboat station community in both areas. We are very grateful for their insight and cooperation, which helped us reach the decisions on the correct lifeboat configuration for this stretch of water.

‘As sea use around the coast changes, we must ensure that we have the most appropriate lifeboats in place which will save the greatest number of lives in the most effective way.

‘The RNLI is funded by the generosity of the public and has been for almost 200 years. We have a responsibility to provide the right lifesaving service for residents, visitors and those who use the water, while ensuring donations to our charity are spent as wisely and appropriately as possible.’

The all-weather lifeboat and inshore lifeboats at Aldeburgh and Happisburgh remain operational during this time. Now the decision has been approved by trustees, the new configuration will be operational and saving lives at sea after working with the stations to agree the right send off for their departing boats.

Removing Happisburgh’s Atlantic 85 and retaining the D class ILB maintains lifesaving effect in the area, eliminates complex launch and recovery issues with the Atlantic, and ensures all available volunteers can be focused on one lifeboat, which should improve its availability.

Rachael Kirkham, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Happisburgh RNLI, said: ‘It is sad to see the Howard Bell Atlantic 85 leave the station. We have had difficulties with the beach for a number of years but our fantastic volunteers have worked hard to maintain the service at Happisburgh.

‘We have a strong team at Happisburgh and will work hard to carry on saving lives at sea with Russell Pickering our D Class Lifeboat. Anyone interested in joining our team please contact the station at [email protected] or visit the station on Tuesday evening or Sunday morning and meet our great team.’

Chris Halder, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Aldeburgh, said: ‘The crew are disappointed and sad to see the end of the all-weather lifeboat era at Aldeburgh.

‘We’ve got a really committed and enthusiastic crew who we want to continue saving lives at sea and we need visitors and supporters of Aldeburgh to maintain their backing of the station to help us make the decision, which RNLI trustees approved, work.’

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.

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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.