Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station operates two lifeboats: D class inshore lifeboat D-829 Little Susie and Severn class all weather lifeboat 17-20 Spirit of Northumberland.

D class inshore lifeboat D-829 Little Susie

Introduced in 1963 the D class has served as the workhorse of the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) fleet. It has a single 50hp outboard engine and can be righted manually by the crew following a capsize.

Significantly smaller in comparison to the rest of the inshore fleet, the D-class is also one of the few RNLI types not to feature a rigid hull. The main aspects of the boat are its size and weight – only 436 kg (960 lb). The D-class has been specifically designed as a light and highly manoeuvrable rapid response craft and is capable of operating for three hours at its maximum speed of 25 knots.

The D-class lifeboat is constructed of two sponsons, together housing seven inflatable segments intersected by baffles. The main construction fabric is Hypalon-coated Nylon which provides a durable, non-tear surface.

The D class is a common sight at lifeboat stations around the coast. Unlike other members of the ILB fleet, it does not have a rigid hull; all others, with the exception of the Arancia, hovercraft and ALB tenders, are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs).

The D-class normally has a crew of three or four and is primarily used for beach/surf incidents as well as assisting in cliff incidents where the casualty is near the water. The very nature of its work requires a swift response, and the D-class can normally be afloat within five minutes of the crew pagers going off.

The design of the D class has continued to evolve since its introduction and the latest version is the IB1 that was introduced in 2003.

D-829 Little Susie was placed in service on 21st November 2018 and was generously funded by Susan and Pat Russell of Halifax.

Severn class lifeboat 17-20 Spirit of Northumberland

Introduced in 1995, the Severn class is the largest boat in the RNLI fleet. The sheerline sweeps down for ease of survivor recovery. Her propellers and rudders lie in partial tunnels set into the hull that, along with the two bilge keels, provide excellent protection from damage in shallow water.

In addition to her twin engines, the Severn is fitted with a hydraulic-powered bow thruster for improved manoeuvrability.

Comprehensive electronics include VHF and MF radios with DSC functionality, VHF direction finder, DGPS with electronic chart system and radar.

The Severn carries a Y boat, an inflatable daughter boat complete with a 15hp outboard engine. This small craft is used in moderate conditions to access areas where the lifeboat cannot reach.

Comprehensive casualty care equipment includes stretchers, oxygen and entonox. Other equipment includes a portable salvage pump carried in a watertight container.

In return for their dedication and commitment, the RNLI makes a pledge to its volunteer crew that the rescue equipment is maintained to the highest standards and able to respond to emergencies at sea. The lifeboat refit process sees the entire craft stripped and rebuilt with any part found to be worn, torn or broken being repaired or replaced. The frequency of this process for all-weather lifeboats depends upon several criteria, including its hull material, whether it is kept afloat or housed and its class.

Spirit of Northumberland’s original Caterpillar engines were replaced with new MTU engines during her 2010 refit as part of an evaluation being carried out by the RNLI to investigate the extension of the service life of the Severn Class lifeboats.

  • Date introduced: 1995
  • Displacement: 42 tonnes
  • Launch type: Afloat
  • Number in fleet: 44
  • Fuel capacity: 5,600 litres
  • Length: 17.3m
  • Crew: 7
  • Beam/width: 5.9m
  • Max speed: 25 knots
  • Draught/depth: 1.78m
  • Range/endurance: 250 nautical miles
  • Construction: Hull: fibre reinforced composite with single-skin section below the chine and 100mm thick foamcored sandwich above;
  • Deck and superstructure: 25mm foam-cored sandwich
  • Engines: 2 x MTU M94 series 2000 V10 marine diesel engines producing 1507hp (1124kW) at 1500rpm
  • Survivor capacity: Self-righting: 28, non self-righting: 124.