E-class lifeboat

Mark I E-002 (left) and Mark II E-07 (right)
Class overview
Name: E-class
Operators: Royal National Lifeboat Institution
In service:
  • Mark I: 2002–2012
  • Mark II: 2011–
Active: 6
General characteristics
Displacement: 3.86 tonnes
Length: 9 m (30 ft)
Beam: 2.94 m (9.6 ft)
Draught: 0.67 m (2.2 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × 240 hp (179 kW) Steyr diesels powering Hamilton waterjets
Speed: 40 knots (46 mph; 74 km/h)
Endurance: 4 hours
Capacity: 20
Complement: 3

The E-class lifeboat serves the shores of the United Kingdom as a part of the RNLI inshore fleet. It operates exclusively in the tidal reach of the River Thames in London, and has a top speed of 40 knots.[1]

Mark I

E-005 Legacy

The boat is made of an aluminium alloy with a closed cell polythene foam collar, and is powered by a Jet Drive that gives the boats extreme maneuverability which is essential to enable crews to reach casualties in the fast flowing river. The boat is 9 metres (30 ft) long and carries equipment including marine VHF radios, a first aid kit, an emergency defibrillator, a GPS navigation system, night vision equipment, a self-righting system, a radar interrogator, towing equipment, and lighting equipment.[1]

The class was introduced in 2002 to serve the tidal reach of the River Thames and the Thames Estuary. This was as a result of a much delayed enquiry into the Marchioness disaster in 1989, in which 51 people died. The enquiry criticised the lack of a rescue service for the tidal Thames, and the UK government asked the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Port of London Authority and the RNLI to work together to set up a dedicated Search and Rescue service for this stretch of the river.[1][2]

There are currently four E class boats in use on the Thames, split between Chiswick Lifeboat Station to the west of central London, and Tower Lifeboat Station at Victoria Embankment in central London. An E class boat also originally operated from Gravesend Lifeboat Station on the estuary to the east of London, but it proved less suitable for the more exposed conditions of the lower estuary so was withdrawn in 2009 and replaced with an Atlantic 85.

With the development of the Mark II, the Mark I will be phased out following the London 2012 Olympics.

Op. No.[lower-alpha 1] Name In service Principal Station Comments
E-001 Public Servant (Civil Service No.44) 2002–2005
Relief fleet
Damaged beyond repair, currently in Ipswitch ready for scrap.
E-002 Olivia Laura Deare 2002–2009
Relief fleet
On display at Chatham Historic Dockyard from 2012
E-003 Chelsea Pensioner 2002–2015 Chiswick
E-004 Ray and Audrey Lusty 2002–2012 Tower
E-005 Legacy 2002– Tower
E-006 Joan and Ken Bellamy 2005– Chiswick

Mark II

E-07 Hurley Burly

The E Class Mark II is intended to replace the Mark I after the 2012 London Olympics. They again have a maximum speed of 40 Knots, have a crew of 2-5 people in ergonomically designed seats whilst having a larger deck area for casualties.

The first boat, Hurley Burly, has been on station at Tower since Autumn 2011 whilst two more Dougie and Donna B and Brawn Challenge will operate between Chiswick and Tower in early 2012.

Op. No.[lower-alpha 1] Name In service Principal Station Comments
E-07 Hurley Burly 2011– Tower
E-08 Dougie and Donna B 2012– Chiswick [3][4]
E-09 Brawn Challenge 2012– Relief fleet [3][4]


The RNLI also had a valiant RIB which was allocated the fleet number E-01.[5]

Op. No.[lower-alpha 1] Name In service Principal Station
E-01 Valiant RIB 2001–2003 Enniskillen


  1. 1 2 3 Op. No. is the RNLI's Operational Number of the boat carried on the hull.


  1. 1 2 3 "The fleet - E class". Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
  2. "Thames lifeboat service launched". BBC News. 2 January 2002. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  3. 1 2 "E class update". RNLI.
  4. 1 2 The Lifeboat Magazine. RNLI. Spring 2012. p. 19.
  5. Inshore Lifeboat Fleet Archive. RNLI HQ, Poole: RNLI. p. 68.

External links

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