RNLB Helen Smitton (ON 603)

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Helen Smitton launch, St Abbs, 1911.jpg
Helen Smitton being launched at St Abbs, 1911
British Civil Ensign
Name: Helen Smitton
Builder: Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company
Sponsored by: James Hodge
In service: 1911-1936
Official Number: ON 603
General characteristics
Class and type: Watson-class lifeboat
Length: 37.97 ft (11.57 m)
Beam: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Propulsion: Primary Oar/Sail plus 37hp Wolseley petrol engine

RNLB Helen Smitton (ON 603) is a Watson-class lifeboat built by Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company in 1910. Helen Smitton served as the lifeboat at St Abbs, Berwickshire, Scotland from 1911 to 1936 and was the village's first lifeboat.[1]

Design and construction[edit]

Helen Smitton is a non-self-righting, 38-ft Watson-class lifeboat constructed from Honduras mahogany on Canadian rock elm frames and stringers. Her floors are iron. A layer of calico coated with white lead paste sits between each layer of the hull. A 1.5 ton fixed iron ballast keel and a triangular drop keel that passes through the fixed keel are present. She was powered by a 37 hp Wolseley petrol engine. That engine is now missing.[2][3]


Helen Smitton is undergoing preservation work at Marloes, Pembrokeshire, West Wales, having been reduced to little more than a bare hull in poor condition and with structural problems. 95% of her original wooden hull remains.[2] She is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels by National Historic Ships, with certificate number 2220.[2]


  1. ^ "St Abbs RNLI". Onlineborders.org.uk. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Helen Smitton". National Register of Historic Vessels. National Historic Ships. 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Helen Smitton". www.shipshapenetwork.org. Retrieved 11 June 2013.