Oakley-class lifeboat

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Sheringham Lifeboat ON960 Manchest Unity of Oddfellows.JPG
37-02 Manchester Unity of Oddfellows
Class overview
Builders: J.Samuel White
Operators: Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Preceded by: Watson
Succeeded by: Rother, Solent
Cost: £32,000
Built: 1958–1971
In service: 1958–1993
Completed: 31
Retired: 31
Preserved: 10
General characteristics
Displacement: 30 long tons (30 t)
Length: 37 ft (11 m)and 48 ft 6 in (14.78 m)
Beam: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)and 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
Draught: 3 ft 4 in (1.02 m)and 4 ft 4 in (1.32 m)
Propulsion: Two diesel engines (various types)
Speed: 8 knots (9.2 mph; 15 km/h)
Complement: 7

The Oakley class lifeboat was a self-righting lifeboat operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution around the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland between 1958 and 1993. During this time they saved a combined total of 1,456 lives in 3,734 rescue launches.

The class is known by the name of its designer, Richard A. Oakley.

History[edit]

During the first half of the twentieth century the RNLI had equipped its lifeboat stations with motor lifeboats designed by G L Watson and, later, J R Barnett. Both these men had designed boats that were generally stable, but unlike the earlier Peake boats, were not self-righting. Part of the problem was that motor lifeboats were much heavier than 'pulling and sailing' boats which could be packed with cork to make them buoyant. Richard Oakley worked out how to use shifting water ballast to create a self-righting motor lifeboat.[1][2]

Oakley's 37-foot (11 m) prototype was launched in 1958 and placed in service at Scarborough. Production boats started to be built in 1961 and in 1963 the prototype 48-foot-6-inch (14.78 m) boat was launched and sent to Yarmouth. The last Barnett-class was built in 1960 and the final Watson-class in 1963, after which Oakleys were the only all-weather lifeboats put into service for the next eight years.[3]

Design[edit]

The Oakley was designed as a self-righting boat. The design combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of it 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.[citation needed] The water was discharged from the tank when the ship was taken out of the sea after each launch. A problem emerged with damp sand left in the tank after the water was drained. This caused a weak electrolytic action that eroded the copper nails which held the wooden hulls together.[4]

The hull of the Oakley class was constructed from two wooden skins with a layer of calico between. After several years it was found that the calico absorbed water which caused softening of the wood around the copper nails. This led to a series of surveys in the late 1980s and the withdrawal of some boats, or replanking of others.[4] The skins were made from diagonally laid African Mahogany planks. The outer one was 0.375 inches (9.5 mm) thick with the inner 0.25 inches (6.4 mm). The keel was iron and weighed 1.154 tons. The hull was divided into eleven watertight compartments.[citation needed]

Two sizes were built. Most boats were 37 feet (11 m) in length and 11 feet 6 inches (3.51 m) in beam. It displaced 12.05 tons when fully laden with crew and gear. Five larger boats were built that were 48 feet 6 inches (14.78 m) long and 14 feet (4.3 m) wide.

Fleet[edit]

37 foot boats[edit]

ON Op. No. Name Built In service Principal stations Further use[3]
942 37-01 J.G. Graves of Sheffield 1958 1958–1993 Scarborough Preserved at Chatham Historic Dockyard
960 37-02 Manchester Unity of Oddfellows 1961 1961–1990 Sheringham Preserved at Sheringham
961 37-03 Calouste Gulbenkian 1961 1962–1991 Weston-s-Mare Under restoration at Donaghadee
966 37-04 Robert and Dorothy Hardcastle 1962 1962–1968
1968–1991
1991–1993
Boulmer
Filey
Relief fleet
Preserved at Hartlepool
972 37-05 The Will and Fanny Kirby 1963 1963–1979
1979–1983
1983–1993
Seaham
Relief fleet
Flamborough
Preserved at Chatham Historic Dockyard
973 37-06 Fairlight 1964 1964–1988
1989–1990
1991–1992
Hastings
St Ives
Newquay
Pleasure boat at Blakeney Harbour
974 37-07 Jane Hay 1964 1964–1974
1974–1980
1980–1992
1992–1995
St Abbs, Hastings[5]
Relief fleet
Newcastle
Stored
Broken up 1995
975 37-08 Sir James Knott 1963 1963–1969
1969–1972
1972–1985
1985–1990
Cullercoats
Relief fleet
Redcar
Relief fleet
Preserved at Redcar
976 37-09 Lilly Wainwright 1964 1964–1990
1990–1992
Llandudno
Kilmore Quay
Pleasure boat at Cobh
977 37-10 Charles Fred Grantham 1964 1964–1990
1990–1993
Skegness
Relief fleet
Broken up 1993
978 37-11 The Royal Thames 1964 1964–1969
1970–1978
1979–1991
1991–1993
Caister
Runswick
Pwllheli
Clogher Head
979 37-12 Amelia 1964 1964–1978
1978–1991
Relief fleet
Scarborough
Originally named James and Catherine Macfarlane. Preserved at Charlestown
980 37-13 William Henry and Mary King 1964 1964–1967
1967–1988
1989–1990
Cromer
Bridlington
North Sunderland
Children's playground, Highbury, London
981 37-14 Mary Pullman 1964 1965–1989 Kirkcudbright Hull on display at Spalding
982 37-15 Ernest Tom Nethercoat 1965 1965–1990
1990–1991
Wells
North Sunderland
Under restoration
983 37-16 The Doctors 1965 1965–1991
1991–1993
Anstruther
Relief fleet
Under restoration at Donaghadee
984 37-17 Mary Joicey 1966 1966–1981
1981–1989
Newbiggin
Relief fleet
Under restoration for display at Newbiggin
985 37-18 Valentine Wyndham-Quin 1967 1968–1984
1984–1988
Clacton-on-Sea
Clogher Head
Preserved at Harwich
986 37-19 Lloyds II 1966 1966–1990
1990–1992
Ilfracombe
Sheringham
Broken up 1993
991 37-20 Edward and Mary Lester 1967 1967–1989 North Sunderland Broken up 1989
992 37-21 Frank Penfold Marshall 1968 1968–1989 St Ives Broken up 1989
993 37-22 Har Lil 1968 1968–1990 Rhyl Under restoration at South Ferriby
994 37-23 The Vincent Nesfield 1969 1969–1988
1988–1991
Relief fleet
Kilmore Quay
Broken up 1991
995 37-24 James Ball Ritchie 1970 1970–1991 Ramsey Broken up 1992
996 37-25 Birds Eye 1970 1970–1990 New Quay Preserved at Moelfre
997 37-26 Lady Murphy 1971 1972–1988 Kilmore Quay Broken up 1995

48 foot 6 inch boats[edit]

ON Op. No. Name Built In service Principal stations Further use[3]
968 48-01 The Earl and Countess Howe 1963 1963–1977
1977–1984
Yarmouth
Walton and Frinton
Broken up 2003
989 48-02 James and Catherine Macfarlane 1967 1967–1983
1983–1987
Padstow
The Lizard
Preserved at Land's End
990 48-03 Ruby and Arthur Reed 1966 1967–1984
1985–1988
Cromer
St Davids
Preserved at Hythe
1015 48-12 Charles Henry 1968 1969–1984
1984–1987
Selsey
Baltimore
Pleasure boat at Exeter
1016 48-13 Princess Marina 1970 1970–1988 Wick Broken up 2003

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leach, Nicholas (2003). Oakley Class Lifeboats: an Illustrated History of the RNLI's Oakley and Rother Lifeboats. Stroud: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-7524-2784-3. 
  2. ^ Wake-Walker, Edward; Deane, Heather and Purches, Georgette (1989). Lifeboat! Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1835-9. 
  3. ^ a b c Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. pp. 22–27. 
  4. ^ a b Kipling, Ray; Kipling, Susannah (2006). Never Turn Back. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0-7509-4307-6. 
  5. ^ Lifeboat Gallantry - RNLI Medals and how they were won. Author: Cox, Barry. Publisher:Spink & son Ltd and the RNLI, 1998. Work:DAVY Pete, Hastings Lifeboat: Page 354. mention of the Jane Hay (ON 974) on relief at Hastings. ISBN 0907605893

External links[edit]