At Sunderland Lifeboat Station we currently operate an IB-1 version of the D Class inshore lifeboat. The IB-1 is specifically designed for close inshore work where bigger, deeper draught boats cannot manoeuvre.
The D Class lifeboat was orginally introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963. It is easily and quickly launched, thus providing a rapid response to a distress call with high-speed transit to the casualty.
The D Class went through a complete revamp between 2002 and 2003 and is built of modern materials resulting in reduced through life maintenance and a stronger, faster boat. Stowage and equipment were all reviewed and all round improved boat has resulted. It is a fully inflated craft built of Hypalon coated polyester and fibre reinforced composite (FRC). The hull is divided into seven separate compartments so that, should one become punctured, the lifeboat will remain serviceable.
The crew have the benefit of a soft matress, which provides some protection from the pounding of the waves and vibration as the lifeboat proceeds as fast as possible to the casualty at speeds of up to 25 knots.
The power is provided by a 50 horsepower outboard engine mounted on a FRC transom and the lifeboat can remain on service for at least three hours. Equipment includes VHF radio, fixed installation GPS, flares, anchor, compass, first aid kit, knife, and flexible fuel tanks.
At Sunderland the boat is launched from a 6m davit which lifts the crew and the boat from the boathouse into the water.