Waveney-class lifeboat

Larne lifeboat (3) - geograph.org.uk - 635530.jpg
Larne Lifeboat RNLB William and Jane (ON 1079) in October 1997
Class overview
OperatorsRoyal National Lifeboat Institution
Preceded byRother, Solent
Succeeded byArun
In service1964–1999
General characteristics
Typemotor lifeboat
Displacement18–19 tons
Length44 ft 10 in (13.67 m)
Beam12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
Draught4 ft 2 in (1.27 m)
PropulsionTwo diesel engines (various models)
Speed15.4 knots (17.7 mph)
Range190 nautical miles (350 km)

The Waveney-class lifeboat was the first class of lifeboats operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) capable of operating at speeds in excess of 10 knots (12 mph).[1] Based on an American design, 22 saw operational service between 1964 and 1999 at the RNLI's stations around the coast of the United Kingdom and Ireland. After being superseded by faster boats in the 1990s, many were sold for further use with lifeboat services abroad, notably in Australia and New Zealand.

The class name comes from the River Waveney which discharges into the North Sea at Great Yarmouth.


In the 1960s the RNLI's fleet consisted of motor lifeboats of limited speed due to the shape of their hulls. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) had developed a 44-foot motor lifeboat which planed across the surface of the water, the consequence of which is a reduced wetted surface area to the hull, and therefore a much higher speed.[2] One was built for the RNLI by the USCG in Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard, Maryland,[3] and this was put through extensive trials and proved capable of operating in restricted spaces, even though the propellers lacked the usual protection afforded to lifeboats.[2]

The prototype was never given a name although the crews nicknamed it "The Yank".[2] It entered trials in 1964 but the first production boats did not start to emerge until 1967. After six had been placed in service there was a hiatus which lasted until 1974 when production was restarted, and then continued through until 1982 by which time 22 were in service. The entire fleet was replaced between 1996 and 1999 as new Trent and Severn lifeboats came into service, but many were sold for further use as lifeboats or pilot boats.[4]

The boats launched in 1967 and 1968 were built by Brooke Marine at Lowestoft and those in 1974/5 by Groves and Gutterdige in Cowes. The 1976/7 batch came from Bideford Ship Yard and the last three from Fairey Marine in Cowes.[3]

Two 50-foot (15 m) long versions were built as the first of a proposed fleet of Thames-class lifeboats but the class was cancelled in favour of an Arun class with a different hull shape and improved crew facilities.[2]


A Waveney-class lifeboat floating on its moorings.
The Waveney-class lifeboat at Dunmore East lifeboat was kept on a mooring.

The steel hull is 44 feet 10 inches (13.67 m) long and 12 feet 8 inches (3.86 m) wide, drawing 4 feet 2 inches (1.27 m) of water. The hull is divided into seven watertight compartments including two survivor compartments and a crew space. The coxswain operates the boat from an open wheelhouse. Powered by a pair of diesel engines, it has an operating radius of 95 nautical miles (176 km).[1]

The prototype was built with twin 200 brake horsepower (150 kW) Cummins V-6 engines but in 1973 was upgraded to 250 bhp (190 kW) Ford Mermaid 595T 6-cylinder engines. The first batch of production boats were initially built with pairs of 215 bhp (160 kW) Cummins V-6 engines. All these, including the by then re-engined prototype were fitted in the early 1980s with 203 bhp (151 kW) Caterpillar D3208 V-8 engines. The Groves & Guttridge built boats of 1974/5 had more powerful 260 bhp (190 kW) General Motors V-8 engines which they retained throughout their service life. The four boats of the 1976/7 Bideford Ship Yard build were originally fitted with 250 bhp Ford Mermaid 595T 6-cylinder engines but these were changed within five years for 250 bhp Caterpillar D3208T V-8 engines as had by then been fitted to the three final boats.[3]

RNLI fleet

ON[a] Op. No.[b] Name Built In service Principal Stations Further use[4]
44-001 1964 1964–1996 Falmouth[5] Preserved at Chatham Historic Dockyard
1001 44-002 John F. Kennedy 1966 1967–1996 Dun Laoghaire To Brixham Dive and Charters? Brixham 2018, named Fortitude
1002 44-003 Khami 1967 1967–1997 Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Sold to Australia
1003 44-004 Faithful Forrester 1967 1967–1997 Dover Sold to Australia
1004 44-005 Margaret Graham 1967 1967–1988
Pilot boat St Hilda of Whitby at Whitby
1005 44-006 Arthur and Blanche Harris 1968 1968–1974
Barry Dock
Sold to Australia
1006 44-007 Connel Elizabeth Cargill 1967 1968–1985
Relief fleet
Sold to Australia
1026 44-008 Eric Seal (Civil Service No. 36) 1974 1974–1996 Eyemouth Sold to Namibia
1027 44-009 Helen Turnbull 1974 1974–1996
Achill Island
Sold in 1999 and became pleasure boat Badger at Douglas
1028 44-010 Thomas Forehead and Mary Rowse II 1974 1974–1987
Sold to New Zealand
1029 44-011 Augustine Courtauld 1974 1974–1983
Relief fleet
Sold to Australia
1033 44-012 The White Rose of Yorkshire[7] 1974 1974–1988
Sold to Canada
1034 44-013 Thomas James King 1975 1975–1997 St Helier Pilot boat Northesk at Montrose
1035 44-014 St Patrick 1975 1975–1996 Dunmore East Owned Andrew Hurst Somerville Australia to be refurbished for personal use[citation needed]
1036 44-015 Lady of Lancashire 1975 1976–1989
Dun Laoghaire
Pilot boat St Boisil at Berwick-on-Tweed
1042 44-016 Ralph and Joy Swann 1976 1976–1990
Trip boat West Swann at Port Howard
1043 44-017 The Nelsons of Donaghadee 1976 1976–1997 Sunderland Sold to New Zealand
1044 44-018 The Scout 1977 1977–1997 Hartlepool Sold to Uruguay
1045 44-019 Louis Marchesi of Round Table 1977 1977–1985
Relief fleet
Sold to New Zealand[8]
1060 44-020 John Fison 1980 1980–1996 Harwich Sold to New Zealand
1065 44-021 Barham 1980 1980–1999 Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Pleasure boat Legend at Auckland
1079 44-022 The William and Jane 1982 1982–1998 Blyth Sold to Kaikoura Coastguard, New Zealand. Sold 2005 Now in private service. Named "Gryphon" used for cruising
  1. ^ ON is the RNLI's Official Number of the boat.
  2. ^ Op. No. is the RNLI's Operational Number of the boat carried on the hull.

Other fleets


Name[4] RNLI ON Built Sold Station
P&O Nedlloyd Rawalpindi 1006 1967 1999 Mosman, New South Wales
P&O Nedlloyd Strathaird 1029 1974 1999 Horseshoe Bay, New South Wales
P&O Nedlloyd Strahallan 1005 1968 1999 Bayview, New South Wales
P&O Nedlloyd Stratheden 1002 1967 1999 Brighton le Sands, New South Wales
P&O Nedlloyd Strathmore 1003 1967 1999 Narooma, New South Wales
P&O Nedlloyd Strathnaver 1035 1975 1999 Batemans Bay, New South Wales

New Zealand

Name[4] RNLI ON Built Sold Station Comments
Hamilton Rotary Rescue 1060 1980 1999 Raglan Now at Nelson
John Barton Acland Rescue 1079 1982 2000 Now cruiser Gryphon
Nicholsons Rescue/Trust Porinua Rescue 1043 1976 1998 Mana
P&O Nedlloyd Rescue 1045 1977 1999 Now a houseboat at Whangarei
Westgate Rescue 1028 1974 1999 Taranaki


Name[4] RNLI ON Built Sold Station Comments
1a 001 1033 1974 1999 Roberts Bank, Vancouver, Canada
Ades 16 14-016 1044 1977 1997 Puerto del Buceo, Uruguay
Spirit of Standard Bank 1026 1974 1999 Walvis Bay, Namibia Moved to Luderitz in 2005


  1. ^ a b Wake-Walker, Edward; Deane, Heather; Purches, Georgette (1989). Lifeboat! Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 41. ISBN 0-7110-1835-9.
  2. ^ a b c d Kipling, Ray; Kipling, Susannah (2006). Never Turn Back. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. pp. 83–85. ISBN 0-7509-4307-6.
  3. ^ a b c Lawford, Clive. "RNLI (Waveney Class)". Clive Lawford. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. pp. 26–29.
  5. ^ Morris, Jeff (2002). The History of the Falmouth Lifeboats (2nd ed.). Coventry: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. pp. 18–19.
  6. ^ Leach, Nicholas (2002). Fowey Lifeboats. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. pp. 75–93. ISBN 0-7524-2378-9.
  7. ^ Whitby Lifeboat: The White Rose of Yorkshire
  8. ^ Salsbury, Alan (2010). A History of the Exmouth Lifeboats. Wellington, Somerset: Halsgrove. pp. 121–128. ISBN 978-0-85704-073-2.
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