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60 years of saving lives: celebrating the anniversary of our 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.

RNLI/Andy Storey

D class lifeboat on exercise
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, meaning crews can get as close as possible to those in trouble.

Brad Johnson, Volunteer Deputy Launch Authority at Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station, said: 'D class lifeboats stationed at Skegness have enabled our volunteer crew to reach areas close to shore to rescue people in trouble. These fast and highly manoeuvrable lifesaving craft answered the need for a quicker and more agile response to rescues in areas of water that were more challenging to the larger and slower all-weather lifeboats.

‘D class lifeboats are a part of our community and suit the demands of the rescues we attend, with its unique features and capabilities it has made a huge difference to the efficiency and effectiveness of our 24/7 search and rescue service.'

Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station has had its D class inshore lifeboat saving lives at sea since May 1964 when it arrived at the station. This was the first inshore lifeboat in Skegness, and there has been one stationed in the town ever since. At the time, due to the space within the main boathouse, which was located on South Parade, the ILB was kept in a small shed close to the main beach until it was moved in 1990 to the new lifeboat station on Tower Esplanade, its current home.

Since 1964, Skegness' D class inshore lifeboats have launched 1,556 times and has saved the lives of 279 people, a truly astonishing figure.

Today, the station is home The Holland Family D-842, the station's current inshore D class lifeboat. Between 1964 and 1987, there were three unnamed D class lifeboats (D-15, D-58, D-212) at Skegness.

The following lifeboats followed this:

  • 1987−1994 - Michel Phillipe D-326
  • 1994−2002 - Leicester Fox D-460
  • 2002−2009 - Leicester Fox II D-573
  • 2009−2010 - Tom Broom D-538
  • 2010−2016 - Peterborough Beer Festival IV D-739
  • 2016–2019 - Marie Theresa Bertha D-792
  • 2019–present - The Holland Family D-842

Lewis Knight, ILB Helm at Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station commented on the vessel capabilities: ‘The D class is the best boat in the fleet in my opinion. She’s an understated pocket rocket. I know that when the D class launches, I have full faith in the lifeboat's ability to help us save lives and keep my crew safe.’

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.

Notes to editors:

  • *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.

D class

  • With a top speed of 25 knots, the D class lifeboat can operate in both day and night with an endurance of 3 hours at sea.

  • As an inflatable inshore lifeboat, the D class is designed to operate close to shore in shallower water. Although our smallest lifeboat, the D class saves more lives than any other class of lifeboat.

  • The latest generation of D class lifeboats, known as the IB1 type, was introduced in 2003 with improved speed, manoeuvrability and equipment.

The RNLI is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Skegness RNLI is based on Tower Esplanade, Skegness. The lifeboat station was founded in 1825 and the volunteer crew use an all-weather Shannon class lifeboat Joel and April Grunnill and D class lifeboat The Holland Family.

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact:

Brad Johnson, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for lifeboat station RNLI on [email protected]

RNLI Press Officer: [email protected]


D class lifeboat on exercise during launch


Crew in front of Station with Mersey and D class lifeboat


Flag Day in front of Station with Mersey and D class lifeboat


Crew in front of Station with Tractor and D class lifeboat


Crew launching D class lifeboat

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.