Irish Lifeboats

The definitive guide to the Irish lifeboat service

RNLI Lifeboat Fleet

The RNLI currently operate from a total of 46 stations in the Republic and Northern Ireland. 


Different classes of lifeboat are needed for various locations, depending on geographical features, the kind of rescue work that the station is asked to do and the cover provided by neighbouring stations.


RNLI lifeboats are divided into two categories: all-weather and inshore.

All weather Lifeboats (ALB)

All-weather lifeboats (ALBs) are capable of high speed and can be operated safely in all weather. They are inherently self-righting after a capsize and fitted with navigation, location and communication equipment. Current  All weather lifeboat classes (ALBs): Mersey, Severn, Shannon, Tamar and Trent are in service at Irish Lifeboat stations.

Mersey Class Lifeboats


The Mersey class lifeboat is designed primarily to operate from a carriage on a beach but can also operate off a slipway or lie afloat.


The Mersey was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1988 and the last Mersey class lifeboat was built in 1993.


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Trent Class Lifeboats


Developed by the RNLI in the early 1990s, with a maximum speed of 25 knots, propeller protection and a range of 250 nautical miles.


The Trent was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1994 and the last Trent class lifeboat was built in 2003.


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Severn Class Lifeboats


Developed in the early 1990s, the Severn class is designed to lie afloat, either at deep-water moorings or at a berth. 


The Severn was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1995 and the last Severn class lifeboat was built in 2004.


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Tamar Class Lifeboats


The Tamar class is one of the most modern all-weather lifeboat classes currently in service with the RNLI.


The Tamar was introduced to the RNLI fleet in 2005 and the last Tamar class lifeboat was built in 2013.


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Shannon Class Lifeboats


The Shannon class lifeboat harnesses cutting-edge technology to ensure that it will meet the demands of a 21st century rescue service.


The Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet in 2012.


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Inshore Lifeboats (ILB)

Inshore lifeboats (ILBs) usually operate closer to shore than ALBs, in shallower water, close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves. Currently Atlantic 75, Atlantic 85 and D Class serve Irish Lifeboat stations.

D Class (IB1) Lifeboats


First introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963, the design of the inflatable D class lifeboat continues to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology. The current version the IB1 was introduced in 2003.


These fast, light inflatable boats are suited to shallow water and confined locations.

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B Class (Atlantic 75) Lifeboats


The Atlantic 75 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.


These boats gradually replaced the Atlantic 21 fleet, but are now in the process of being replaced by the third generation Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

B Class (Atlantic 85) Lifeboats


The Atlantic 85 is part of the B-class of lifeboats that serve the shores of the United Kingdom and Ireland as a part of the RNLI inshore fleet.


The Atlantic 85 is the third generation B-class Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) developed from the Atlantic 21 and the later Atlantic 75.


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Rescue Water Craft (RWC) & Boarding Boats (BB)

Rescue Water Craft (RWC)


The Rescue Water Craft (RWC) is a jet ski operated and equipped for search and rescue. Being water jet driven the hazard of the propellers is removed and the shallow water capability enhanced.  


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Boarding Boats (BB)


As the name suggests, Boarding Boats are generally used to access the All-Weather lifeboat moored off-shore. 


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Retired Lifeboat Classes

Waveney Class Lifeboats


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. 


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. Read More>>

Tyne Class Lifeboats


The Tyne class lifeboat was the first introduced in 1982 and was the RNLi's first 'fast' slipway launch lifeboat. The Tyne class can also lie afloat. 


The last Tyne was built in 1990 and the class was replaced by the Tamar and Shannon class lifeboats. Many of the retired Tyne class lifeboats have now been sold to other rescue organisations across the world.  Read More>>



B Class (Atlantic 21) Lifeboats


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.


All Atlantic 21 class lifeboats have retired from RNLI service with last one standing down from service in 2007.  Read More>>