There were mixed emotions on display at Wicklow on Sunday 28th April 2019 when a ceremony of celebration was held to mark the retirement of the last magnificent Tyne Class lifeboat in RNLI service. After some 30 years on station, she was also, coincidentally, the last steel hulled RNLI lifeboat in service too, after an unbroken 55 year run from 44-001 coming into service in 1964, historic times indeed!
Wicklow’s Tyne was ON1153, 47-035, Annie Blaker. She began her service at Wicklow RNLI in 1989 and along with ON1147, 47-032, Sir William Hillary who served at Douglas 1988 to 2018, is one of the two Tyne Class boats to reach a full 30 years on station.
47-035 will now sail to Portishead Marina for decommissioning from the RNLI fleet, the end of a wonderful chapter in the RNLI’s ongoing history.
The first Tyne was ON1074, 47-001, City of London, serving Selsey from 1983 – 2006 and the last built was ON1158, 47-040, Hermione Lady Colwyn that served at Shoreham Harbour from 1990 to 2010). Since retiring from RNLI Service 8 were sold to China and are serving as lifeboats, 5 are serving other lifeboat services in places as diverse as Canada and Sri Lanka, 23 are in private/business use as workboats, pilot boats, fast ferries and pleasure craft in places such as Portishead in England, California in the USA, a number in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even one in Togo (West Africa).
Three are now allocated for Museums; ON1131, 47-023 City of Sheffield at the National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield, ON1132, 47-020 Spirit of Lowestoft to the RNLI Museum Chatham and ON1146, 47-031 Voluntary Worker at Glasson Dock).
All the Tynes have an excemplary service record and of course their fabulous Detroit Diesel engine sound will be much missed!
Thanks to the excellent Lifeboat Enthusiasts Handbook 2019 for reference material.
(photos c/o Phil Griffiths)
Historic RNLI Lifeboat ON1008, 48-005, 48’6″ Solent class “James And Mariska Joicey” with the 1960 built ON949 52′ Barnett Mk2 Class “Ethel Mary” (Ballycotton 1959 -1985, Reserve 1985 – 87, Baltimore 1987 -88) under restoration in Coleraine.
ON1008, 48-005, “James and Mariska Joicey”, (Stationed at RNLI Peterhead 1969 -86, RNLI Lizard 1987 – 88, RNLI Reserve Fleet 1988 – 89) is the second of a total of eleven Solent Class Lifeboats, was built in 1968-9 at the Groves and Gutteridge Boatyard at Cowes on The Isle Of Wight along with three of her sister boats (ON1007, 1009 & 1010). Her build cost of just over 65,000 GBP was met by the legacy of Mrs Mariska Joicey who died in 1964. The boat is named after her and her industrialist husband James (died 1924) and continues to bear a worthy tribute to her generosity over 50 years after she died.
The Solent Class Lifeboats are inherently self righting using a combination of bouyant air tight cabins and am 8 ton iron keel without any other mechanical devices to achive this, simple but effective.
Impressively one Solent class lifeboat, a MK2 built in 1973, currently (2017) remains in full SAR service for the Uraguay lifeboat service. Additionally another two Solent class lifeboats (“City of Birmingham” in Uraguay and “R. Hope Roberts” in Australia respectively) only retired 2 years ago, a testament to the excellent design amd build quality of the class.
Weighing in at overall of 28 tons, Solents have a hull contructed from self weathering 6mm Corten Steel plate on an internal rib structure. This features a double bottom (skin) under the engine room and the hulls have proven to be very durable nearly 50 years on. The superstructure (cabin) is contructed from top grade marine grade Aluminium, again proving to be very durable. Of course as RNLI boats the Solents were immaculately maintained (mostly in boat houses) during their service days which has no doubt contributed significantly to their longevity!
The Solents are essentially a Mk3 version of the RNLI’s wooden hulled, water ballast self righting Mk2 48′ 6″ oakley class lifeboats but were considered different enough with their steel hulls, twin rudders and inherrent self righting system (all features well proven with the USCG and RNLI Waveney Class 44′ Lifeboats) to be given a new class name. Other than the smaller 37′ wooden Rother Class boats (built up to 1982), the Solent Class was the arguably the ultimate version of the classic double ended lifeboat hull design that dates from the 1800s!
All Solents were designed to be able to be slipway launched and housed in the existing RNLI boat houses current at the time of their commissioning (1969 through 1973), as indeed were the later Tyne class boats. The relatively compact dimensions of the boat houses dictated a low superstructure height (limiting visability to a degree at sea) and a folding mast/radar scanner. (Only relatively recently, are new boathouses being built to allow a higher superstructure profile on the latest slipway launching tamar class lifeboats.)
The Solents also marked the unltimate chapter of RNLI Lifeboats featuring the wonderful engines manufactured by Gardner, in this case specifically, an installation of twin, contra-rotating Gardner 6LX engines, each of 10,450cc and 110hp with electric and emergency manual starting systems, remote, belt driven high output 24v CAV alternators. The 6LX engines (as with all traditional Gardners) are reliable, slow revving, produce high torque and are truly economical in terms of fuel consumption. The hull design of the Solents (and all traditional displacement hulled lifeboats) have an effective top speed of around 9 knots, so more power would simply be wasted without any appreciable gain in speed.
Internally the Solents have an aft cabin accessed via a watertight door in the wheelhouse and emergency roof hatch which housed the Radar/Radio Operator’s station and seating benches for crew/survivors. Additionally access to the Mathway Steering Box and rudder linkages, the Drogue Anchor and Heat Exchanger/Reserve Fuel tank space are afforded via this cabin. Midships is the wheelhouse with Helmsmans stool, additional crew benches, compass and engine guages. Moving forward a watertight door affords entry to the particularly (for an RNLI lifeboat) capacious engine room with the afore mentioned Gardner 6LX engines, hydraulic winch motor, battery banks and electrical systems. After walking through the engine room another watertight door opens into the forecabin that houses the anchor rope drum and through a wooden door to port is the Blakes Sea Toilet and small sink. 24v electric lighting is fitted throughout the cabins.
All of the Solent Class Lifeboats were retired from the RNLI by 1995 by which time the oldest boats were 26 years old and the youngest 23. A number of them went on to other SAR organisations (Uraguay, Chile, Australia and Estonia) while the others including ON1008 were sold into private hands.
In 1990 ON1008 in and her sister Solent Class Boat “The Royal British Legion Jubilee” were unwittingly sold out of RNLI service to smugglers and bothnhad their fuel capacity increased massively to allow a long distance range (estimated at around 1,000 miles) to be achieved. Eventually ON1008 and her sister were intercepted by UK Border Patrols, ON1008 was impounded on the Thames and her sister (with some tragedy) boarded off the coast of Scotland. ON1008 was then auctioned and became a trip boat on the South Coast of England, later she returned to the Thames being re-sold in excellent order in 1999 to a religious group who sailed up to Co.Donegal in NW Eire for conversion to a sailing reigious retreat. During this period she dragged her anchor during a Spring tide and storm surge and driven ashore.
Despite being up on the shore and listing 11 degrees to port, work continued on this somewhat ill conceived conversion, which the current owner subsequently discovered elements of which were contrary to safe and effective operation at sea. These faults have since been rectified at considerable effort and cost. After a while, with it proving impossible to refloat her due to the inaccessible nature of location and following disagreements, she was laid up, semi-abandoned and largely left to be sporadically vanadalised by local teenagers.
In 2012/13 however she was put up for sale and after a couple of abortive attempts she was finally sold to her current owner Callum Cameron Ives in December 2013. Work progressed as quickly as the remote location, limited access and budget allowed until finally and following exhaustive investigation into potential methods, she was in August 2014 with help from a heavy digger and local fish farm tug, successfully refloated. There was found to be a serious leak in one of the four wheelhouse drain channels, which took around two days to get properly staunched, luckily the combined sealing properties of CT1 sealant, self amalgamating and aluminium duct tape proved most effective and removed the need to be towed to a boatyard located over an hour’s sailing away for repair.
Visits between 2014 and 2015 got her into running order. Luckily the previous technical manager of the conversion project was a knowlegable and efficient engineer and the engines had been well maintained with regular oil changes, other than some sticking in the fuel injector pumps the engines came back to life readily.
In July 2015 an intial one hour sea trial down the Moross Channel, through Broadwater and up the narrows to Mulroy Bay revealed that the port engine was overheating. This proved to be a blockage around the thermosat housings caused by antifreeze crystals. It was also discovered that the water pump bearing was badly worn so a day was spent locating a new one (in Coleraine, thanks B!) Finally on 8th July 2015 we sailed with a crew of five, with basic navigation and communications equipment in place. With engine revs carefully set (850 rpm Port and 900 rpm) to avoid vibrations from the partially damaged propellors, she sailed faultlessly under escort from the 47′ Watson Class Joseph Soar, (thanks B!) in beautiful weather, the 8 hours, occasionally with a following tide achieving an impressive SOG of 11.3 knots, from Mulroy Bay around Malin Head and into Portrush for the evening, where we were generously entertained by Richard and Lee (thanks guys!)
The next day she sailed up to Coleraine and a few weeks later was taken out of the water for full survey (thanks B, Richard, Connor and Coleraine Harbour A Team).
Now close to being ready for re-launching in Spring 2019, subject to final, crucial funding being in place!