Inshore Lifeboat Centre

Based in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, our Inshore Lifeboat Centre (ILC) supplies and maintains over half of the lifeboats for all of our lifeboat stations, as well as our lifeguard units.

About the Inshore Lifeboat Centre

Within the ILC, a team of up to 70 highly skilled boatbuilders, fitters, electricians and solutionists work to build and maintain up to 80 boats each and every year. This includes inflatable B class and D class lifeboats, and lifeguards’ inshore rescue boats (IRBs).

Our technicians work across three buildings, supported by a team of office workers, store persons and apprentices. There’s a dedicated laminating shop, spray booth, machine shop and welding bay, specifically for the creation of our B class Atlantic inflatable lifeboats.

The Inshore Lifeboat Visitor and Heritage Centre was opened in 2018 by HRH Princess Anne and offers an insight to the history of the ILC and the RNLI on the Isle of Wight. 

Book your free tour today

Now that the Covid restrictions have been relaxed, ILC is pleased to announce that public tours will restart on Tuesday 31 May 2022, and then every Tuesday each week at 10:30 hrs (The tour takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours).

Booking is vital, so please call 01983 292521 to reserve your space in advance, the tour is free of charge.

What you’ll experience on the tour

A free tour of the Inshore Lifeboat Centre lasts approximately 90 minutes, taking you through the different stages of build and refit that our lifeboats move through – including composite manufacture, rewiring and engine testing.

You’ll get to see:

  • the purpose-built manufacturing and refit of Atlantic lifeboats
  • our laminating shop, spray booth and welding bay
  • electrical build and refit, including three engine test tanks
  • the manufacturing and refit of D class lifeboats
  • our composite workshop
  • our rubber workshop, including CNC cutting machine
  • office and stores facilities
  • the interactive visitor and heritage centre.

Building inshore lifeboats

To give you an idea of what you’ll enjoy on an ILC tour, here’s a quick insight into our inflatable lifeboat building process:

We build the inflatable D class all in house at ILC, and fit out the boarding boats, the X, XP and Y daughter boats to the ALL weather lifeboats. As well as beach lifeguard boats.

The D class sponsons are cut by a CNC machine via a computer programme, and the fabric is then glued together by skilled staff.

The main pod for the D class is also built at ILC, and the boats assembled to included electrics, navigational equipment, a deck mattress for the crews to kneel on. The sponson is fitted with a number of grab handles and rope, as well as two flexible fuel tanks and a single outboard engine. The boat is sea trialled before being delivered to the lifeboat station.

The Atlantic 85 is built almost completely at the ILC.

The hull and deck and console mouldings are made here, the hull is cooked in an oven, and when ready gets fitted out with hull structure, decks, fuel tanks and ballast systems fitted.

The main modules are the hull, the console, the Roll bar and mast, the outboard engines and the sponson.

These are built and assembled on a specially designed production line. The electrics are all inversion proofed as are the two outboard engines.

Once completed the lifeboat will be tested and trialled at sea and on completion delivered to the lifeboat station, where a naming ceremony and blessing takes place.

A lifeboat that encounters damage from being out on a shout or training exercise will be repaired straight away.

We can send a technician to the lifeboat station if it’s a small repair or a quick fix, but if it is a major repair then an immediate replacement lifeboat (relief ) is arranged, to enable the damaged boat to be returned to ILC for repair.

We aim, where possible, to turn around an Atlantic 85 repair in less than 6 weeks, and a D class repair in less that 3 weeks.

How to find us

You’ll find the Inshore Lifeboat Centre at Clarence Road, East Cowes, Isle of Wight PO32 6HB. We’re easily reached from the mainland by regular ferry services.

Webcams at our Inshore Lifeboat Centre

We are currently experiencing some technical issues with our webcam feeds which is currently being investigated.

You'll find us at:

RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Centre
Clarence Road
East Cowes
Isle of Wight
PO32 6HB

Call 01983 292521 to book a free tour today and see lifeboat building in action.

Booking lines open Mon – Fri 8am to 5pm.