Kirkcudbright RNLI celebrates 60 years of 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.

Kirkcudbright RNLI

The Mary Pullman Oakley Class all-weather lifeboat shown going down the slip at Kirkcudbright RNLI

Kirkcudbright RNLI has had inshore lifeboats on station since 1989. One member of the volunteer crew served on the last all-weather lifeboat stationed at Kirkcudbright RNLI and subsequently both the inshore lifeboats, spanning a long 40-year career.

Robert Ross started as a 15-year-old who cycled down to the boathouse to help with the day to day maintenance of the Oakley Class Lifeboat Mary Pullman. He was on the crew when in 1989, the Oakley Class Lifeboat reached the end of its operational life and was taken off service. As often happens when a major change takes place, it was a challenging time for the station, however, the relatively young remaining crew enthusiastically accepted the change.

The Atlantic 21 was a new breed of lifeboat, a rigid inflatable boat, specially designed by the RNLI the 22’ 10” inflatable could reach speeds of 32 knots (the Mary Pullman could reach 8). The new inshore lifeboat very quickly proved its worth.

Two relief Atlantic 21’s were on station for a couple of years. B-523 Blue Peter 1 that was on one service and the well-known relief boat B-525 Spix’s Macaw which was launched 14 times at Kirkcudbright. By the time the permanent B-585 Peter and Grace Ewing was placed on station, Robert was already qualified as a helm. This lifeboat served the station well with 139 launches and 11 lives saved. It was replaced in 2006.

In 2005, Robert took part in the evaluation trials of the new Atlantic 85 class lifeboat. The new Atlantic 85 was an improvement of the previous Atlantic 21. The lifeboat reaches speeds of 35 knots and can launch in daylight in force 7 and at night force 6. In 2006, B-814 Sheila Stenhouse came on service at Kirkcudbright RNLI where it remains to the present day, having received several refits over the years.

Robert, who became senior helm in 2003, is also the Kirkcudbright RNLI Lifeboat Training Co-ordinator, and above all at Kirkcudbright RNLI Lifeboat Station knows the worth of these inshore lifeboats.

Robert says: ‘The technology and performance of the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat keep crew safe in the most challenging of rescues.

‘The introduction of the inshore lifeboat to the lifeboat fleet changed the whole ethos, taking us from an 8-knot Oakley all-weather lifeboat to a 30-knot capability allowing rescues to be carried out in half the time, with less tidal restrictions.’

Robert’s long service with the RNLI shows the dedication of the volunteer crews and the amazing technology used to keep the RNLI saving lives at sea.

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.

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:

· *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.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact:

Christine Collins, Lifeboat Press Officer, [email protected]

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

Press Office – [email protected] - 01202 336789

Kirkcudbright RNLI

The Peter and Grace Ewing Atlantic 21 is shown with the Sheila Stenhouse Atlantic 85.

Kirkcudbright RNLI

Robert Ross at the wheel of the Mary Pullman lifeboat at Kirkcudbright RNLI

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.