RNLB Ruby and Arthur Reed (ON 990)

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Roundabout at Hythe Marina, Hampshire.jpg
British RNLI Flag
OwnerRoyal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
BuilderWilliam Osborne, Arun Shipyard, Littlehampton, West Sussex
Official Number: ON 990
Donor: Gift of Mrs R. M. Reed, Eastbourne, in memory of her Husband of Stanford
Station Cromer
Christened21 June 1967 by Mrs R M Reed
FateA static display in the middle of a rounderbout at Hythe Marina on the Waterside opposite Southampton Docks.
General characteristics
Displacement30 tonnes
Length48 ft 6 in (14.78 m) overall
Beam14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
Installed powerTwin Gardner 6LX Diesel engine of 110 bhp (82 kW)
Propulsion2 X fixed pitch 5 blade propellers
Speed9 knots (17 km/h)

Ruby and Arthur Reed (RNLI Official Number 990)[1] was an Oakley-class lifeboat of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) stationed at Cromer in the English county of Norfolk[2] from 30 April 1967[3] and was the No 1 lifeboat between various relief’s[4] until she was replaced after 17 years service by the Tyne-class Ruby and Arthur Reed II on 16 December 1985. During the time that the Ruby and Arthur Reed was on station at Cromer she performed 125 service launches, rescuing 58 lives.

Design and construction[edit]

Ruby and Arthur Reed was built in 1966[4] at the yard of William Osborne at Littlehampton, West Sussex.[4] She was an Oakley class self-righting design which combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of the lifeboat capsizing.[5] 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.[5] If the capsize was to the starboard side of the lifeboat, the water shift started when an angle of 165° was reached.[5] 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.[5]

Hull construction[edit]

The hull of the Ruby and Arthur Reed was constructed from African mahogany built with two skins.[5] 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 48 feet 6 inches (14.78 m) in length and 14 feet 0 inches (4.27 m) in beam and displaced 12 tons 1cwt,[5] when fully laden with crew and gear. She was fitted with twin 110 hp Gardner 6LX six cylinder diesel engines, which moved her over the water at 9 Knots.[4] Ruby and Arthur Reed’s aluminium wheelhouse was positioned amidships and was fully enclosed which provided welcome crew protection from the elements. Aft of the lifeboat there was another cabin which served as the chartroom and also housed all the lifeboats electronic equipment.[4]


The lifeboat was fitted with Decca 060 radar and all she carried Pye Westminster VHF and an Ajax MF Radiotelephone. In addition a radio Direction Finding set was carried, which gave a magnetic bearing to a transmitting station. The electric searchlight was standard along with Pains Wessex speedlines.


Ruby and Arthur Reed was on station at Cromer for seventeen years and during that time she was launched 125 times and she saved fifty eight lives. Her first service took place on 4 July 1967[1] to a motor fishing vessel called Renovate. The fishing boat’s engine had failed and she was at anchor two miles east of Haisborough Sands. Two engineers from the Royal Naval minesweeper HMS Belton were put aboard to try to repair her. Coxswain Henry "Shrimp" Davies[1] and his lifeboat stood by through the night until the boat's engines were once again working.


Service and rescues[edit]

Date Casualty Lives saved
4 July Motor fishing vessel Renovate, stood by
20 January Motor vessel Alme of Meppel, took out doctor
3 September Haisborough Lightvessel, landed a sick man
10 October Crab boat Lewis James of Cromer, gave help
19 December Trawler Rotha of Lowestoft. Landed a sick man 1
4 February Dinghy, saved dinghy 3
2 March Motor launch Pinnace, of Poole saved launch 2
31 March Steamship Alice Bowater of London, landed a sick man 1
11 May Fishing boat Provider of Cromer, saved boat 2
13 May Tug Workman of Hull stood by tug with warhead on board
30 June Cabin cruiser She’s a Lady. Assisted to save cruiser 3
11 July Motor vessel Ramso of Copenhagen, escorted
23 August Trawler Filby Queen of Lowestoft, landed a sick man
30 August Yacht Stilalisanin landed 1 and saved yacht
18 September Trawler Rock Fish of Lowestoft, took out doctor
15 November Gas Rig Hewitt Alpha, gave help
3 January Motor vessel Friederike of Brake, landed a sick man
14 January Trawler Suffolk Kinsman of Lowestoft. Landed a sick man
22 January Motor fishing boat Thistle, saved boat 3
10 May Motor fishing vessel Kindly Light, gave help
21 May Pipe laying vessel WD Tideway, landed a sick man
26 June Motor fishing vessel Normanby of Bridlington, gave help
12 November Fishing boat My Beauty of Cromer, give escort
15 May Cabin cruiser Nadine Leah, gave help
13 June Yacht Gentle Nimbus, gave help
5 May Two fishing boats, stood by
20 May Trawler Boston Viscount of Lowestoft, landed injured man
21 August Fishing boat Cossack, saved boat 4
12 September Cabin cruiser New Prince of Wales, saved cruiser 3
25 October Fishing boat Provider of Cromer. Saved boat 4
22 March Motor vessel Silver Sands, landing a sick man 1
1973 to August 1974 of station for refit
31 August Lightvessel LV.22, landed sick man
10 September Motor vessel Langstone Tern, escorted boat
1 November Motor vessel Dutch Sailor, landed an injured man
21 February Cargo vessel Fortuna II, landed an injured man
22 May Royal Naval ship HMS Shevington, sick man gave help
8 September Yacht Irishman, saved boat 10
26 October Cruiser Andruss, saved boat 2
12 December Freighter Alexandria, stood by vessel
14 December Freighter Alexandria, stood by vessel
6 February Trawler Suffolk Conquest, took out Doctor to injured man
23 June Cargo vessel Garden Saturn, stood by vessel
7 August Fishing vessel Albert, saved vessel 2
18 August Haisborough Lightvessel, landed an injured man
15 September Yacht Mr Micawber, saved boat 2
18 October Fishing boat Sea Green, gave help
19 February Cargo vessel Atlantic Duke, stood by vessel
22 February Catamaran Katabatic, gave help
24 February Chemical carrier Thorodland of Panama, stood by vessel
18 March Cargo vessel Femmy Lian, of Cyprus, gave help
18 April Cargo vessel Star River of France, gave help
27 July Cargo vessel Heye-P of Germany, injured man gave help
9 September Yacht Autumn Liz, gave help
14 November Cargo vessel Nimrod, of Jersey, 1
24 December Cargo vessel Rafaela of Panama, stood by vessel
16 August Fishing boat, gave help
4 September Fishing boat Charles Perkins, gave help
1978 to May 1979 of station for refit
22 May Fishing boat Concorde II, missing crewman, landed body
6 June Yacht Victoria George gave help
6 June Tug Englishman, stood by vessel
20 June Oil rig standby vessel Boston Hornet, took out Doctor, landed a sick man
5 January Fishing vessel Ellen, of Great Yarmouth, gave help
17 January Cargo vessel Lendoudis Evangelos of Greece, gave help
8 April Fishing boat, escorted home
3 May Motor fishing vessel Bess of Denmark, saved boat 4
23 June Motor vessel Jenny Glen of Kings Lynn, saved boat 2
30 January Cargo vessel Ems of West Germany after collision, recovered life raft
30 January Cargo vessel Undine of Belgium after collision, recovered life raft
2 June Fishing boat Provider of Great Yarmouth, gave help
2 August Cabin cruiser Lancer, gave help
2 August Cabin cruiser Falcon, gave help
13 August Helicopter, gave help
30 November Oil rig supply vessel The Cuttlefish 2
17 September Skin Diver, gave help
21 September Fishing boat Provider of Cromer, escorted
21 September Fishing boat Elizabeth Kathleen of Wells-next-the-Sea, escorted
12 December Motor boat Trade Winds, saved boat 2
12 July Fishing boat Ventura of West Runton, landed injured man
15 February Cargo vessel Camilla Weston, of London, landed 5
9 May Cargo vessel Marie Anne of Germany, landed sick man
12 July Aircraft, recovered the wreckage
13 July Fishing boat G.N.D., of Great Yarmouth, saved boat 2
15 August Cargo vessel Emily P.G., of Shorham landed injured man
4 September Fishing boat Provider of Great Yarmouth, escorted
September 1984 Retired from Cromer


  1. ^ a b c The Cromer Lifeboats, by Bob Malster & Peter Stibbons,:Poppyland Publishing, ISBN 0-946148-21-X
  2. ^ OS Explorer Map 252 - Norfolk Coast East. ISBN 978-0-319-23815-8.
  3. ^ Cromer Lifeboat, A pictorial history, By Nicholas Leach & Paul Russell, Pub; Landmark Collector’s Library, ISBN 978-1-84306-363-6
  4. ^ a b c d e Cromer Lifeboats 1804-2004, Leach, Nicholas & Russell, Paul, Pub: Tempus Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7524-3197-8
  5. ^ a b c d e f 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