RNLI lifeboats are divided into two categories: all-weather lifeboats and inshore lifeboats. The different classes of lifeboat within these categories mean we can reach people in all kinds of situations and locations.
The type of lifeboat a station has depends on geographical features, the kind of rescues the station is involved in and the cover provided by neighbouring lifeboat stations.
All-weather lifeboats (ALBs) are capable of high speed and can be operated safely in all weather conditions. They are inherently self-righting after a capsize and fitted with navigation, location and communication equipment. Big and bright, the sight of one of our all-weather lifeboats on the horizon has given hope to many.
The all-weather fleet currently consists of the Shannon, Severn, Trent, Tamar and Mersey class lifeboats.
Inshore lifeboats (ILBs) usually operate closer to shore, in shallower water, near cliffs, rocks and even in caves. They are designed to be quick and manoeuvrable, allowing our crews to get as close as possible to those in trouble.
The inshore lifeboat fleet consists of the B and D class lifeboats, as well as the E class lifeboats on the River Thames.
We also have inshore rescue hovercraft for areas that are inaccessible to conventional RNLI lifeboats such as mud flats and river estuaries. The hovercraft allows us to fly across dangerous terrain, enabling our lifesavers to quickly get to those who need us most.
Hovercraft are on station at Hoylake, Hunstanton, Morecambe, and Southend lifeboat stations.
Powering our fleet
Our lifeboats couldn’t run without your support. Every launch is only possible thanks to donations from people like you.
RNLI lifeboats are always ready to save lives at sea thanks to the care and attention given to them by station mechanics and our maintenance teams out on the coast and at our all-weather and inshore lifeboat centres. When they require longer repairs or planned services, refits and modifications, they are temporarily replaced by the same class of lifeboat from our relief fleet.