Launch a Memory – remembering the ones you love

If you could put the name of someone you love and miss on the side of an RNLI lifeboat, would you jump at the chance? Thousands already have, with Launch a Memory.


Invergordon’s Shannon class lifeboat

Photo: RNLI/Steve Lowe

Invergordon’s new Shannon class lifeboat – the names of 9,500 people have been added to the letters and numbers on her hull

A new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat Agnes AP Barr went on service at Invergordon Lifeboat Station in February. But look closely at the number on her side, because there’s more to it than meets the eye. 

A new lifeboat for the 21st century

Safe, fast and manoeuvrable, the new lifeboat, named after the main benefactor Agnes Barr, is a 21st century replacement for the station’s much-loved Trent class lifeboat. She will help our brave volunteer crew to go on saving lives in the Moray Firth for the next 25 years.

But she will do something else too. As our first Launch a Memory lifeboat, Agnes AP Barr will help the memories of loved ones to live on – every time she launches.

And you can do the same thing today – remember someone special by adding their name to a new lifeboat at Wells-next-the-Sea,

Launching memories on Scotland’s east coast

The operational number RNLI 13-37 on the port side of the hull of the Invergordon lifeboat

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

The operational number on the port side of the Invergordon lifeboat

Five months on and Agnes AP Barr is helping to save lives at sea and keep families together. The stickers (or decals as they’re otherwise known) on her hull, spelling out her operational number, are making a difference too. They’re covered with the names of thousands of loved ones, keeping so many family memories alive. 

Coxswain Andrew Murray standing in front of Invergordon’s Shannon class lifeboat, with the operational number RNLI 13-37 written on the starboard side

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

Coxswain Andrew Murray standing in front of Invergordon’s Shannon class lifeboat

Whenever the lifeboat launches on a rescue or training exercise, the memories of all the people named on the decals launch too – powering the lifeboat and her crew on their way.

‘We are absolutely delighted to have our new Shannon class lifeboat,’ says Coxswain Andrew Murray. ‘As the RNLI’s first Launch a Memory lifeboat, it holds a special place in people’s hearts. We are extremely proud and humbled to carry the names and memories of so many loved ones with us each time we launch.’

Touching a chord

Launch a Memory has touched a chord with RNLI supporters old and new, and the response has been overwhelming. So much so, that we’ll soon be adding the names of thousands more loved ones to the decals of a second Launch a Memory lifeboat (operational number RNLI 13-43) – for Clifden Lifeboat Station on the west coast of Ireland. And our third Launch a Memory lifeboat is now ready for people like you to add the names of their loved ones. You can read some of the wonderful memories that people have left on our Launch a Memory dedications page.

The first name to be added will be that of Lee Early, a young lifeboat volunteer from Donegal. Lee (26) tragically lost his life in 2020 when he was involved in an accident on Arranmore Island. He was a much-respected deputy coxswain at Arranmore Lifeboat Station and a skipper of the local ferry, who loved the sea and the lifesaving charity in which he played such an important part.

Former Crew Member Lee Early sitting next to his dad Jimmy, in RNLI crew kit

Photo: RNLI/Clifden

Former Crew Member Lee Early with his dad Jimmy, Coxswain at Arranmore

The Shannon lifeboat

From her sophisticated navigation and communication systems to her waterjet propulsion, the Shannon class lifeboat has everything that RNLI crews need. She’s our most manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat yet, capable of operating in deep seas and shallow water close to the shore. And she’s the safest too. New shock-mitigating seats protect the crew from injury when sea conditions get rough. Like all our all-weather lifeboats, an air-tight wheelhouse – the covered space where the crew sit to control the lifeboat – helps ensure that the lifeboat bobs straight back up in the unlikely event of a capsize.

While the crew at Invergordon are putting their new lifeboat through its paces, back at the All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, the Clifden lifeboat is taking shape. The lifeboat is made in two halves – the composite hull and wheelhouse. Before the two halves are brought together, the lifeboat will be painted in the RNLI’s signature blue and orange.

Close up of the orange painted wheelhouse of a Shannon lifeboat under construction at the All-weather Lifeboat Centre

RNLI/James Smerdon

Wheelhouse painted, another Shannon under construction

Newly painted sections will spend the night in an oven to control the temperature until the paint cures. An underwater coating will also be applied around this time to ensure the hull is sealed from any water ingress and remains waterproof. The underwater coating is a very hard-wearing layer which also prevents damage to the bottom of the boat when crews recover the lifeboat onto a beach.

Right now, the lifeboat is getting her engines, gearboxes, fuel tanks and cable looms fitted using overhead cranes. Then the two halves will be glued together using special adhesives. Everything will be fully commissioned and tested before she leaves the factory. 

Adding the decal is the all-important finishing touch. Only then will the crew be able to put the lifeboat through her paces to test that everything is working OK before it joins the RNLI fleet.

Man applying the decal to the port side of the lifeboat

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Applying the decal

How to launch your memory

Remember someone special by submitting their name for our third Launch a Memory lifeboat at Wells-next-the-Sea, on the north Norfolk coast. With their name on the boat’s side, your loved one will head out into the North Sea with RNLI lifesavers when someone needs their help.

You can add your loved one’s name to the side of the lifeboat for a suggested donation of £50/€50. You can include an online dedication too, if you choose.