End of line for All Weather vessel with new inshore lifeboat for Margate RNLI

The new Atlantic 85 inshore boat. Photo RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has announced that Margate’s Mersey class all-weather lifeboat, the Leonard Kent, will be replaced by an Atlantic 85 B class inshore lifeboat.

The decision to change Margate’s lifeboat was made on Wednesday (September 23) when the charity’s Trustees accepted the recommendation of its Operations Committee. Volunteers at the station were then updated and plans have been put in place to train the crew in the operation of the Atlantic 85 inshore boat.

The RNLI regularly conducts a coast review process for all lifeboat stations, looking at the lifesaving service they provide along with patterns of risk in the area and other lifesaving provision available. The station’s Mersey-class all-weather lifeboat is coming to the end of its operational life and a decision had to be made about the most appropriate lifeboat to replace it.

The Leonard Kent RNLI Margate

Margate RNLI underwent a coast review in January 2020. After collecting and analysing launch data from the past 12 years, the team involved spoke to the station volunteers, our search and rescue partners and a number of those who work with us around that part of the coast, and then made a recommendation to the RNLI’s Trustees that the most appropriate replacement lifeboat for Margate RNLI would be a B-class inshore lifeboat in addition to the station’s existing D-class inshore boat. This proposed allocation of assets reflects a change in the nature of rescues, with more incidents occurring closer to shore and more suited to the speed and precision of smaller lifeboats.

Glen Mallen, RNLI South East Lifesaving Manager, said: “Our charity’s priority remains to save lives at sea. We provide the best possible search and rescue service while making the most appropriate use of our supporters’ donations by regularly reviewing lifeboat cover around our coastline.

“After careful, evidence-based consideration and analysis, the RNLI has identified that an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat will be better suited to the vast majority of service launches to which Margate volunteers are tasked.

“The traditional pattern of sea use has changed over the years. The greater speed and capabilities of modern lifeboats means we must make a continuous assessment of our lifesaving service and adapt it, particularly as leisure and other sea-based recreational activities increase.

“With a top speed of 35 knots, the Atlantic 85 is twice as fast on the water as the 17 knot Mersey and better suited to most of the rescues carried out by the crew of Margate Lifeboat Station. It will also help reduce the demands on our volunteers as a slightly smaller crew is required. The Atlantic 85 will operate alongside Margate’s smaller D class inshore lifeboat.

Margate station Photo Peter Barker

“The team at Margate lifeboat station has been kept informed of the rationale involved in both the review process and the final decision. I want to thank them for their contribution to this review, but above all for their dedication, professionalism and commitment to saving lives at sea, which I know will continue with the arrival of their new lifeboat.”

The RNLI is committed to supporting volunteers in continuing to provide the best lifesaving service to all those who live in, and visit, Margate and who enjoy the beautiful Kent coast. Margate lifeboat became part of the RNLI in 1860 and the charity is proud of its long association with local lifesaving volunteers.


    • Absolute madnesses. . . . Just look at the weather over this past weekend! a RIB which the Atlantic is, wouldn’t have been able to launch!
      Had a certain cafe on Margate sands not raised a petition in objection to a new boathouse being built, to house a brand new state of the art Shannon class All weather lifeboat, Margate Rnli would not be in this situation. The boathouse would have already been built and, the Shannon Lifeboat upland running!
      I sincerely hope the sands cafe on Margate beach are happy with the RNLI’s decision!
      Let’s hope and pray that no life is lost because of there petition and the rejection of planning permission by Thanet Council because of the Cafe on Margate Beach!
      I would encourage anyone local or visiting Margate to not patronises the Cafe on Margate beech. . , . They should hang there head in Shame!,,,

      • Absolutely agree. What a disgraceful act by all those concerned and what an enormous loss to our town and coast.

  1. A smaller lifeboat needs a smaller lifeboat station. Move the station, enlarge the Turner Centre and build the new hotel. Hope this move is about saving lives and not saving money?

    • It seems the expansion of the Margate art gallery is more important to KCC than saving lives at sea, and so many residents objected to the only viable site for the All Weather Lifeboat that our town has lost out on a new state of the art Shannon Class lifeboat that had the potential to save many more lives at sea.

    • Move the Lifeboat station to where? The only viable place was on the beach, where many lifeboats are stationed around our coasts. The plans were drawn up and a new Shannon Class state of the art Lifeboat was allocated. This would be up and running by now had it not been for the small mindedness of locals and the lack of support from Thanet Council. Why would the RNLI go to all that expense and trouble, if they thought we did not need an All Weather Lifeboat?

  2. Yes, such a shame for those further out at sea that need help. Margate all weather Mersey lifeboat with offshore capabilities to reach those in peril cannot be replicated with an atalantic B class. The mersey can take more crew from ships unlike an atlantic. Whilst it is good a replacement has been offered which will reach inshore incidents quicker, it still seems this is the beginning of the end for Margate with it’s 160 odd year history of saving lives at sea.
    Is this because the lifeboat station needs to move because of the Turner centre enlarging? It certainly hasn’t been stated but it could have a bearing on this decision.

    It would be good if Kathy could interview the crew of the station and see how they really feel.

  3. There is still the AWL at Ramsgate.
    The RNLI, as a charity, has to think carefully about the resources it provides.
    What is the point in a large,slow, seagoing life boat if the majority of rescues are beached jet skiers, or walkers cut off by the tide?

    • The beached jet skiers and cut off walker’s will continue to be rescued with the D class IRB. The new boat is designed to get to casualties far our at sea in half the time.

  4. Despite what was in the RNLI statement, this decision is in no small part due to the actions of the local people who objected to the plans for the new lifeboat station, and to the council who didn’t support the RNLI plans. If the RNLI had been permitted to build a new Boathouse that would accommodate the larger Shannon Class Lifeboat, then Margate would have retained an All-Weather Lifeboat. Shame on the council and the NIMBYS!

    • Ythe NIMBY’so march and Thanet continueso to march on to become a sink bucket as we see the QEQM degraded, our economy slowed to a standstill by opposition to Manston – what’should next? Could it be to convert grammar schools to bog standard comprehensive schools.

  5. Having read most of the comments here I am surprised at the negativity that most people feel. This is actually a positive thing.
    Remember first if all that the lifeboat station was only built where it is as an emergency measure when the jetty was destroyed in a storm in 1978 and there was nowhere else to put it.
    It is by no means an ideal location for that type of boat. Vital time is lost during the laborious launch process.
    The new lifeboat has the potential to save more lives because it can be launched quicker, moves quicker through the water, requires less crew so less waiting time and the very few incidents where an all weather boat is required can be covered by the Ramsgate boat.
    It might also be worth remembering that the RNLI is a charity that depends on the goodwill of others in order to do the work it does. It is funded entirely by charitable donations, memberships and the work of volunteers to raise funds. The lifeboat crew are volunteers also. Yes it receives money from the council to help provide lifeguards on the beach in the summer, but this is also a voluntary contribution without which we would not have the fantastic lifeguard service we have each year.

    • But Rabbie you forget to add that as an open RIB it cannot be launched in all weather. Also that if locals had supported the RNLI plans we now would have a state of the art, fast All Weather Shannon Lifeboat, stationed in a fantastic new bathhouse on the beach, where it should be, able to respond speedily to any call out in all weathers to rescue more of those in peril on the sea.

  6. I must remember to reduce my direct debit to RNLI from £50 per month to £10 smaller in light of this decision they are lucky I’m donating that.

  7. The residents of Margate and beyond ought to be ashamed of themselves!!!
    Had a petition not been raised in 2016 against the RNLI’s planning application for a state of the art new boathouse to house a new state of the art Shannon class lifeboat at a total cost of approx 4million, at no cost to the community what so ever!
    The new boathouse and lifeboat would now have been in situ therefore, the RNLI’s decision of last week would not have been made.
    Looking at the weather this past weekend, there is in no way a RIB lifeboat could have launched, an All weather lifeboat, yes!
    Those that signed to petition ought to be “proud of themselves” they have now denied Margate of an ALB which, can an will put lives at risk.
    The nearest ALB station are either Ramsgate or Sheerness. . . I rest my case!

  8. I personally know Lifeboat crew here in Margate. I’ve spoken to a few of there wives. They actually want there husbands to quit being lifeboat crew. They are petrified there husband / partner will have to launch in a RIB!
    I totally understand there’s concerns.
    Take yesterday 5/10/20. The AWB had to launch to the aid of a yacht some 5 mile north of Margate. All power lost etc etc and only communication was a mobile phone with unreliable signal.
    What would the situation have been (once Margates ALB is withdrawn from service) if that yacht had to wait for a Lifeboat to make best speed from Sheerness or, Ramsgate! We could be looking at fatalities!!
    The RNLI have made a disastrous decision based on people’s objections to a new boathouse!

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