Our Boat

D Class RIBD 702 went on service at the Dart lifeboat station on 25th July 2008. She was named 'The Spirit of the Dart' on Saturday 2nd August 2008.  She is a D Class. IB1 2008

In the early 1960's, the RNLI became concerned about a change in the type of work our lifeboats were getting involved with. More people were using the sea for leisure activities and as a result more people were getting into trouble on the coast , in shallow coastal waters and surf zones, where the traditional heavy displacement lifeboat was not particularly suited.

This concern resulted in the introduction of the D class lifeboat in June 1963. The first stand alone inflatable lifeboat,16 foot long, powered by an outboard engine and with a crew of two or three, she was ideally suited for fast response rescues in shallow water and surf. Easily launched from beaches or slipways the D class lifeboat fitted the role of Inshore Lifeboat very well.

The RNLI now has over 113 D class lifeboats on service around the coast. On average the D class carries out over 27% of all services. During 2007 the D class rescued 1671 people and saved the lives of 80 people.

Over the years the design has changed very little but as more lifesaving equipment has been added a need to improve the lifeboats speed and capability has become apparent.

The IB1 is the answer to that need. Introduced in 2003, the new D class, (IB1) looks very similar to her predecessor, and is exactly the same size and shape externally but the construction and fit out is far superior.

The engine has also changed from 40hp. to 50hp, which will give her more speed and manoeuvrability in surf. The new engine also has an electric start with a manual start override - a facility much loved by the crew!

The 'pod' in the bow allows for dedicated stowage of the boats equipment to keeps it secure and gives easier access at sea.

The IB1 is also fitted with a VHF radio and a chart plotter to ease the job of the navigator in a small boat travelling at speed and allows pinpoint navigation and communications with the Search and Rescue Coordinators ashore.

The IB1 has proved herself to be an ideal replacement for the real workhorse of the RNLI.


Length: 4.95m
Beam: 2.0m
Displacement: 338kg
Crew: 3
Endurance: 3 hours at 25 knots

D 520, Bob Savage, was based at Aldeburgh from June 1997 to April 2007. Her last shout there was on 16 April 2007. In her time at the station she launched 107 times, rescued 49 people and saved one life.

She arrived in Dartmouth on the 8th of August 2007 after a complete refit at Poole. She was called Bob Savage after a volunteer crew member from Aldeburgh who sadly drowned when bringing a yacht back from Holland in 1990. At the time Bob was the Senior Helm of the stations inshore lifeboat. The lifeboat was funded by Mr Hugh Turner of Aldeburgh. Mr Turner has since passed away, but Mrs Turner is still alive and often calls in to see the Coxswain.

Lee Firman, The Aldeburgh Coxswain, was delighted to hear that their boat has a new lease of life in the West Country. "Our situation is very similar to yours" he said. "We can launch across the beach into the North Sea but we also have sixteen miles of river to cover sweeping inland behind the town. We have to get the boat over the Harbour wall and then drive nearly a mile down the High Street to the local Yacht Club to launch on the river" (So much for our worries about the time taken to cross Coronation park! - Editor)

The boat is of an all inflatable type construction powered by one petrol driven 40HP outboard engine and capable of being manually righted by the crew in the event of a capsize. The engine is fitted with a Post Immersion Restart System (PIRS) The D Class has night capability. Navigation lights are fitted and a battery powered searchlight carried, in addition to para illuminating flares. The D class has modest towing ability but it severely restricts the boat's natural manoeuvrability.

Equipment includes both fitted and hand held VHF radio, night vision equipment and First Aid including oxygen. The D Class may be operated with a crew of two or three.

Simon Pryce, Divisional Inspector of Lifeboats stated that:
An Atlantic is a very capable boat and indeed would be an asset at Dartmouth, particularly when on the open sea. However the open sea is not the area that is of particular concern at Dartmouth - the ALBs at Torbay and Salcombe are very capable of dealing with those incidents.

My investigation identified a gap in cover for incidents very close to Dartmouth including the beaches just outside and up river towards Totnes. The D-Class, whilst not the best boat for pulling in fishing boats and other large vessels, fulfils these criteria in a cost effective manner.

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.