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New lifeboat marks 60years since first inshore lifeboat on service

Lifeboats News Release

60 years after the first RNLI inshore lifeboat went on service at Aberystwyth, the town receives a brand-new lifeboat.

Aberystwyths new Atlantic 85 on its first training exercise.

RNLI/Phil Griffiths

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. The stations Atlantic 85 lifeboat B822 ‘Spirit of Friendship’ was this week replaced with a brand new and updated Atlantic 85, B937 ‘Florence and Earnest Bowles

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.

Aberystwyth has had the Atlantic 85 ‘Spirit of Friendship’ since 2007 when it arrived at the station. Before that the station has had nearly every type of inshore lifeboat including the Atlantic 75, 21, the C class and the original D Class which was also trialled at Aberystwyth in 1963. The stations inshore lifeboats have gone on to launch 1368 times, save 251 lives and aid 889 people.

Geraint Wheeler, Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Aberystwyth said:

“When we heard our station Atlantic which has served the community well, was going to be replaced, we couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute for the town and our supporters than to receive the latest inshore lifeboat on the 60th anniversary of the first one going on service here.

Inshore lifeboats have enabled our volunteer crew to
reach areas close to shore, cliffs and rocks 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 lifeboat which was removed from Aberystwyth in 1964.

‘The stations inshore boats are a part of our community and suit the demands of the rescues we attend making, with its unique features and capabilities has made a huge difference to the efficiency and effectiveness of our 24/7 search and rescue service. Allowing us to aid many people in difficult situations, whether that’s people being cut off by the tide, boats in trouble or water users in need of our help. “

Bryn Harrison, lifeboat Helm said “ We are excited to have the latest class of inshore lifeboat in Aberystwyth, and we thank the local community for its continued support of the work we do and for helping to fund our lifesaving work. To give the town the chance to see our new boat up close we will be having our first Open Day since before covid-19 on the 22nd of July this year and we encourage people to come and find out more about the work we do and how they can get involved whilst celebrating the arrival of our new station boat.”

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.

Read more about our Inshore Lifeboats.

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/Dai Jenkins

The first D-Class on trials at Aberystwyth in 1963.

RNLI/Paul McCann

Aberystwyths old and new Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

RNLI/Phil Griffiths

Aberystwyths old Atlantic 85 returning to harbour after its final trip, being waved off by the new boat.

RNLI/Paul McCann

Crew say goodbye to Atlantic 85 Spirit of Friendship after its recovered for the last time.

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.