Oakley class lifeboats

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Class overview
Builders:J.Samuel White
Operators:23px Royal National Lifeboat Institution
In service:1958–1993
General characteristics
Displacement: 30 long tons (30 t)
Length: 48 ft 6 in (14.78 m)
Beam: 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
Draught: 4 ft 4 in (1.32 m)
Propulsion: Twin Gardner 6LX Diesel engine of 110 brake horsepower (82 kW)
Speed: 9 knots (10 mph; 17 km/h)

Oakley class lifeboats served the shores of the UK and Ireland as a part of the RNLI fleet[1]. They are named after Richard A.Oakley[1], the RNLI’s surveyor of lifeboats. The class was introduced in 1958[1] and it became one of the most popular types Amongst lifeboat crews in post-war years. A total of twenty six were built, the last going to her station in 1972[1]. Over a period of thirty five years that the class was in service, it saved a combined total of 1,456 lives in 3,734 rescue launches[1]. The last Oakley class lifeboat was taken out of service in 1993.

Design and Construction

The Oakley class of lifeboat was designed as a self-righting boat. The design combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of the lifeboat capsizing. This was achieved by a system of shifting water ballast. The system worked by the lifeboat taking on one and half tons of sea water at launching in to a tank built into the base of the hull. If the lifeboat then reached a crucial point of capsize the ballast water would transfer through valves to a righting tank built into the port side. If the capsize was to the starboard side of the lifeboat, the water shift started when an angle of 165° was reached. This would push the boat into completing a full 360° roll. If the capsize was to the port side, the water transfer started at 110°. In this case the weight of water combined with the weight of machinery aboard the lifeboat usually managed to stop the roll and allow the lifeboat to bounce back to upright.

Hull construction

The hull of the Oakley class was constructed from African mahogany built with two skins. Each skin was diagonally laid with a layer of calico laid between the skins. The outer skin was ⅜ of an inch thick with the inner skin being ¼ of an inch thick. The keel was iron and weighed 1.154 tons. The hull was divided into eleven watertight compartments. The lifeboat was 37 feet in length and 11 feet 6 inches in beam and displaced 12 tons 1cwt, when fully laden with crew and gear.

List of Oakley class lifeboats


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Oakley Class Lifeboats: An Illustrated History of the RNLI's Oakley and Rother Lifeboats: By Nicholas, Nicholas :Published by The History Press Ltd: ISBN 978-0-7524-2784-3