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Paper Title: The Development of a High Speed Inshore Lifeboat for the River Thames



H J Phillips, H F J Fogarty and P J Sheppard, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), UK


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has operated lifeboat stations on the River Thames since 2002.  The specially designed E-class lifeboats are required to reach any point on the tidal reaches of the river within 15 minutes of incident notification. The existing E-class boats were approaching the end of their operational life so a project was initiated to develop replacement craft incorporating the operational and technical experience gained to date. Improvements to the new boats were predominantly related to speed, but there were also through-life maintenance, cost, wash minimisation, human factors and legislative aspects to consider. This was in addition to providing a stable, well equipped platform for dealing with injured or immersion casualties and a multi-agency communications capability. The new boat is 10m in length with twin inboard diesels, twin waterjets and a solid detachable collar. As with the majority of the RNLI’s lifeboat fleet, the hull is constructed from composite providing significant benefits in terms of increased durability and reduced maintenance costs. The new design also offers sufficient margin on the top speed that will allow for some future weight growth. Furthermore, the new console arrangement provides improved ergonomics and comfort coupled with reduced Whole Body Vibration (WBV) exposure. This paper discusses the development of the craft including the involvement of a user group for key stages of the design and the trials carried out to evaluate handling and wash characteristics.


Transactions RINA, Vol 157, Part B2, International Journal of Small Craft Technology, Jul-Dec 2015 

DOI Number

DOI No: 10.3940/rina.ijsct.2015.b2.176

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