The First Inshore Lifeboat at Helensburgh

The first lifeboat established at Helensburgh was a D class lifeboat. The D class has been the workhorse of the service for 40 years. It is small and highly manoeuverable, making it ideal for rescues close to shore in fair to moderate conditions. It has a single outboard engine and can be righted manually by the crew following a capsize.

Because of the limitations imposed by a single engine, D class boats have no night-time or winter capability. The first boat, D-66, was replaced by D-132 in 1968.

Key Facts

  • Introduced - 1965
  • Length - 16'
  • Max Speed - 25 Knots
  • Range - 3hrs @ max. speed.
  • Crew - 2/3
  • Engine: outboard 40hp Petrol

Original boatshed at Rhu Pier
D-132 in 1970
R. Morrison's Prize Winning photo of D-132

Atlantic 17s

Between 1971 and 1978, four Atlantic 17s were placed on service in Helensburgh, namely C2, B4, B5 and B6. These boats were very similar in construction to the class which was to replace them, namely the Atlantic 21; the main differences being that the 17s had a single 55hp outboard engine and a crew of 2.

Only 6 Atlantic 17 class inshore lifeboats were constructed.

(click pic to enlarge)

The First Atlantic 21 on Station : B-543

As mentioned on the 'History' page, in January 1978, a new Atlantic 21 class lifeboat was placed on service in Helensburgh. The Atlantic 21 was a rigid inflatable, 22'9" long with twin 50hp outboards, giving a speed of over 30 knots. Unlike its predecessor, the Atlantic 21 had a crew of 3. The funding for this boat was generously provided by the National Association of Round Tables, Great Britain and Ireland, to mark the 50th Anniversary of their movement. This lifeboat was assigned hull number B-543. During its time on-station, B-543 embarked upon several hundred lifeboat calls and served the station well.

B-543 on a Helicopter Exercise

The 'Andrew Mason' (B-581)

This Atlantic 21 class lifeboat was a gift from the late Mrs Janet Smith in memory of her brother Andrew Mason. It was in service at Helensburgh from 1990 until 2002 before being taken into the reserve fleet. The main difference between this boat and its predecessor was that it had 70hp outboard engines which provided greater torque.

Mrs Smith & Mrs Mason
Mrs Smith & Mrs Mason
Andrew Mason
B-581 - the 'Andrew Mason'

In 2002, the 'Andrew Mason' was taken off service and replaced by the 'Gladys Winifred Tiffney', B-791.

The 'Gladys Winifred Tiffney' (B-791)

This Atlantic 75 class of rigid inflatable lifeboat was introduced into the fleet in 1993 to replace the Atlantic 21 class (the last of which left service early in 2008). This Atlantic 75 class lifeboat was a gift from the late Mrs Gladys Winifred Tiffney. It was in service at Helensburgh from 2002 until 2017 before being taken out of service.

On exercise in Rhu Bay
B-791 on exercise in Rhu Bay
Stern view of B-791

On Friday 8th December, 2017, B-791 was withdrawn from service after participating in 499 'shouts' and was replaced by B-903, an Atlantic 85 class lifeboat.

The 'Angus and Muriel MacKay', B-903

Our current lifeboat. (Click here for details)

A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland  I  RNLI (Trading) Ltd - 01073377, RNLI (Sales) Ltd - 2202240 and RNLI (Enterprises) Ltd - 1784500 are all companies registered at West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1HZ. Images & copyright RNLI 2008.