RNLB Freddie Cooper (ON 1193)

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Aldeburgh Lifeboat 8 April 2012 (3).JPG
RNLB Freddie Cooper (ON 1193)
British RNLI Flag
Owner: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Builder: Groves & Gutteridge, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Official Number: ON 1193
Station Aldeburgh
Acquired: 1993
General characteristics
Class and type: Mersey
Displacement: 14.3 tonnes
Length: 38 ft 1 in (11.61 m) overall
Beam: 13 ft 1 in (3.99 m)
Draught: 2 ft 3.5 in (0.699 m)
Depth: 3 ft 11 in (1.19 m)
Installed power: 2 x Caterpillar 3208T marine diesel; 280hp each at 2,800rpm
Speed: 17 kn (31 km/h)
Range: 240 nmi (440 km)
Complement: 43 people (Max)
Crew: Six

RNLB Freddie Cooper (ON 1193) is the current all-weather lifeboat on station in the town of Aldeburgh[1] in the English county of Suffolk. The Freddie Cooper has the operation No: 12-34 and has been on station since 1993. She is a Mersey-class fast carriage lifeboat.


The Freddie Cooper was laid down in 1992 by Green Marine[2] of Southampton, Hampshire. She was delivered to the station in 1993. Her hull has been constructed using a fibre-reinforced composite making her robust, strong and very light.[2] The lifeboat is designed to self-right if capsized but only if her passenger capacity has reached 21 people.[3] If the lifeboat’s survivor compartment is fully ladened with 43 people then the lifeboat is non self-righting.[3] Due to the nature and terrain at the Aldeburgh station, the lifeboat is launched and retrieved using a supplied carriage which gives her quick and safe access across Aldeburgh’s shingle beach. The lifeboat is powered by two Caterpillar marine diesel 3208T engines.[3] Each engine produces 285 horsepower which will push the lifeboat through the water at a top speed of 17 kn (31 km/h).[3] Her fuel tanks hold 1,110 of diesel which give a range of 240 nmi (440 km).[3] The lifeboats propellers are installed in tunnels which protect them when launching or in the shallow waters as is the situation at Aldeburgh.

Service and rescues[edit]

Red House Lugger[edit]

On 29 August 1996, during storm force winds the Freddie Cooper was launched, along with the Lowestoft Lifeboat RNLB Spirit of Lowestoft (ON 1132) to go to the assistance of the yacht Red House Lugger [4] which had sent out a Mayday and was approximately 30 miles (48 km) south east of Lowestoft.[5] The yacht was on passage from the Netherlands with her skipper, a schoolmaster, and four teenage school children as passengers. Both lifeboats reached the stricken yacht at 10:15 am and found that the P&O cargo ferry MV Norking [5][6] was standing by and was providing some shelter for the yacht.

Freddie Cooper coxswain Ian Firman managed to get alongside and pulled three of people off the yacht. The second coxswain of the Spirit of Lowestoft, Shane Coleman, was then put aboard the yacht and helped the remaining people on to the Lowestoft boat. The yacht was then towed to Harwich to complete what had been a long and arduous rescue. By the time the Freddie Cooper returned to her station she had been out at sea for 12 hours. The Lowestoft lifeboat finally got back to its berth at 11:30pm. On 27 November 1996,[5] coxswain of the Freddie Cooper, Ian Firman, and the coxswain of the Spirit of Lowestoft, John Cathpole, both received RNLI bronze medals for their part in this rescue. Second coxswain Shane Coleman was awarded "the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum".

Rose Bank[edit]

On Sunday 20 May 2000[7] the Freddie Cooper was launched to go to the help of the Dutch yacht Rose Bank. The yacht had a crew of four who were battling to steer the yacht in a west-north-westerly gale force 7 storm. At 10:38 when the lifeboat was launched, Rose Bank was reported to be seven miles east of Aldeburgh. The weather conditions were rapidly deteriorating and when the Freddie Cooper got to the last reported position there was no sign of the stricken yacht. By this time the Harwich lifeboat RNLB Fraser Flyer (Civil Service No. 43) (ON 1237) had also joined the rescue. Using intermittent radio calls Coxswain Ian Firman was able find the Rose Bank which by this time had drifted 13 miles further east of her original position.

By now the wind had increased to severe gale force eleven and the waves some six metres high. The lifeboat tried several attempts to fire a rocket line across to the Rose Bank so they could secure a tow. This proved to be unachievable and by this time the Rose Bank’s skipper had decided it was time to abandon ship. Three attempts were made by Freddie Cooper to manoeuvre alongside the yacht. The Fraser Flyer positioned herself astern to pick up any one who fell into the sea during the rescue. Three of the crew were lifted off. On the fourth attempt another member of the crew was grabbed and on the last occasion the skipper put his helm hard over, ran to the side and was hauled aboard the Freddie Cooper. The four crewmen were landed at Aldeburgh at 3:15pm and after some time recovering, were eventually taken by car to Harwich to catch the ferry home to the Netherlands. The drifting Rose Bank was recovered three days later by a fishing boat and was towed into Ramsgate in Kent. Eventually the Rose Bank and her owner were reunited.

For his outstanding bravery and gallantry during the rescue of the Rose Bank, Coxswain Ian Firman was awarded a Bronze Medal. Deputy second Coxswain Lee Firman, assistant mechanic, Alan Warner, Jason Burns, Adrian Burns, John Andrews and Chris Spooner were also awarded medal certificates.

Service and rescues 2000 to date[edit]

Aldeburgh Lifeboat 8 April 2012 (4).JPG
Aldeburgh Lifeboat 8 April 2012.JPG
Freddie Cooper
Flag of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.svg
Date Casualty Lives saved
10 March Windsurfer blown out to sea, Search area but nothing found
20 May Fishing Boat with engine failure, towed back to shore
17 July Yacht in difficulties, Towed back to shore
1 September Called to ditched light Aircraft,
Helicopter rescued the 2 crew,
Search and retrieved small amount of wreckage
9 September Barge with steering difficulties, towed to Harwich
9 September Yacht with broken rigging, Stood by
16 September Yacht stuck on sandbank with broken rudder, Escorted yacht to safety
22 October Yacht with un-well crewman, Crewman taken of by Harwich Lifeboat,
escorted yacht to safety
Relieved by RNLB Bingo Lifeline (ON 1184)
8 May 42 ft Motor boat stranded, towed into Southwold harbour
2 August Stranded Boat at the mouth of the River Alde, escorted to safety
28 August Yacht run aground, Stood by
September 20 Yacht sinking, Pump water out of the boat,
towed the yacht to Southwold Harbour[8]
9 November Fishing Boat, Towed to shore
11 January Fishing Boat with engine failure, Stood down after restart
3 March Fishing Boat with engine failure, Towed to Shore
25 April Yacht in Difficulty, Towed to Lowestoft
15 May Dutch Motorboat with engine failure, towed to shore
31 May Motorboat taking on water, Motorboat pump out and retrieved 3
8 June Dutch Yacht with broken rudder and taking on water,
towed to shore
12 July 25 ft Yacht run aground, Rescued 1 man, returned to refloat the yacht 1
12 July 40 ft vessel with engine failure, towed to shore
17 July Hazardous object in the water, two large storage containers,
removed by lifeboat
27 July 26 ft fishing vessel, Towed in and stood by
8 August 26 ft Fishing vessel with engine problem, towed to shore
28 August Yacht run aground, stood by
30 August Yacht with engine failure, Towed into Lowestoft
31 August Search for a vessel with distress beacon activated,
Vessel found but safe and well
9 October Fishing vessel with engine failure, Towed to safety
11 November Object reported in the sea,
Searched the area, nothing found
4 May Yacht run aground on the beach, re-floated and towed to safety
26 May 133 swimmers[9] in charity race, All accounted for
lifeboat stood down
13 August 54 ft vessel with engine failure, Towed to Harwich
19 August Abandoned stolen dinghy at anchor, Search carried out,
no one found, Stood down


  1. ^ OS Explorer Map 231 – Southwold & Bungay. ISBN 978 0 319 23805 9.
  2. ^ a b "Lifeboats built like Racehorse's". ProBoat online. Professional BoatBuilder Association, © Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Mersey-Technical specifications". Lifeboats – Mersey Class. Royal National Lifeboat Association,© Copyright 2013,All Rights Reserved. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Red House Lugger". Aldeburgh Lifeboat service description. Aldeburgh Lifeboat station web site. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Lifeboat Gallantry RNLI medals and how they were won. Edited by:Barry Cox. Published:Spink, London, 1998. Page 403/404.ISBN 0 907605 89 3
  6. ^ "Simplon Postcards – The Passenger Ship Website". P&O North Sea ferry Norking. ©1999-2008 Copyright Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Rose Bank". Aldeburgh Lifeboat service description. Aldeburgh Lifeboat station web site. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  8. ^ "EADT 24". Aldeburgh: Stricken motor cruiser rescued by lifeboat crews. © 2013 Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Southwold Pier to Pub swim". Southwold Pier to Pub Swim: Dozens rescued by coastguards as Suffolk charity swim goes wrong. Daily Mirror Group. Retrieved 5 September 2013.