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B Class (Atlantic 21) Lifeboats

Bangor’s old Atlantic 21 class boat “Youth of Ulster” about to depart from the harbour. Photo Albert Bridge

The Atlantic 21 is part of the B-class of lifeboats that served the shores of the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of the RNLI inshore fleet. The Atlantic 21 was the first generation Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), originated at and by Atlantic College in South Wales, the birth place of the RIB after which the craft is so named. The school was also one of nine locations where the RNLI first established lifeboat stations using smaller inshore watercraft. Atlantic College Lifeboat Station was commissioned by the RNLI in 1963 and decommissioned in 2013.

All Atlantic 21 class lifeboats have retired from RNLI service with last one standing down from service in 2009.

The Atlantic 21 can be launched from a davit, trolley or floating boathouse depending on the location of the station and the available facilities.

The boat carries a variety of equipment which includes two VHF radios, First Aid Kit & oxygen, GPS navigation system, night vision equipment, self-righting system, anchor and various warps, toolkit, towing system, illuminating and distress pyrotechnics, spotlight, torches.

The rollbar assembly installed above the engines contains a self-righting bag which is operated by a member of the crew activating a gas bottle.

Atlantic 21 Facts

In Service: 1970 to 2007

Length: 7.21m

Width: 2.49m


Launch Type: Carriage, davit or floating boathouse

Fuel Capacity:

Crew: 3

Range: 3 Hours

Engines: 2 x 70hp 2 stroke outboard engines

Note: Table below is a work in progress. Any further information will be welcomed.

Lifeboats highlighted in GREEN are/were based at Irish Lifeboat stations.

Lifeboats listed in BLUE were built for the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM).

Lifeboats listed in YELLOW require further information. 


(1) Prototype Atlantic 21. On display at the RNLI Museum, Chatham.

(2) Damaged by vandals and scrapped.

(3) Sold to the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR).

(4) Sold to the Marine Volunteer Rescue (Australia).

(5) Sold to the Finnish Lifeboat Society.

(6) Sold to the Sandown & Shanklin Inshore Lifeboat service.

(7) Sold to Bantry Inshore Search & Rescue Association (CRBI) Ireland.

(8) Sold to the Virgin Islands SAR.

(9) Sold to the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM).

(10) Sold to the Chilean Lifeboat service.

(11) Sold to Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat.

(12) Sold to the Ballybunion Sea & Cliff Rescue (CRBI) Ireland.

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