Jersey lifeboats

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Jersey lifeboats


Thomas James King, Jersey's most honoured lifeboat coxswain, in 1937

Jersey has had a lifeboat since 1830, when a boat was kept near Havre des Pas, to the south east of St Helier. St Helier had its first RNLI station in 1884 and it moved to its current location on the Albert Quay in 1993. A second station was opened on the north side of Gibraltar Rock at St Catherine in 1969. The station has moved twice since then: first in 1984 to a purpose built building at the top of the slip at the foot of the breakwater; and more recently, in 1990, by the coastal tower in St Catherine's Bay.

The naming ceremony of the Howard D

St Helier history

This chronology is taken from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution website

Today's St Helier lifeboat, the George Sullivan

19th century

  • 1825 Gold Medals were awarded to Francis De Ste Croix, Jean De Ste Croix, Philip De Ste Croix and a Silver Medal to Philip Nicholle for rescuing 13 people from the ship Fanny on 9 January 1825. Five people drowned.
  • 1830 The first lifeboat, funded by the States of Jersey, was kept in a boathouse near the shore at Havre des Pas.
  • 1872 Silver Medals were awarded to Charles Blampied, John Bouchard and Elias Whitley for rescuing 18 crew from the ship Isabella Northcote.
  • 1884 The RNLI established a lifeboat station after the one on Alderney closed.
  • 1896 A new boathouse was built in London Bay.

20th century

  • 1937 The station’s first motor lifeboat was placed on service.
  • 1940 During the German occupation of Jersey in 1940–1945 the station was not under the RNLI’s control; it was reported that the lifeboat, with a crew of German guards, had rescued 35 people.
  • 1948 A new lifeboat, the Elizabeth Rippon, the first to have a deck cabin, was sent to the station and placed on moorings in the harbour. A German-built bunker on Albert Pier was taken over and converted for the crew.
  • 1949 A Gold Medal was awarded to Coxswain Thomas King and Bronze Medals to Crew Members Philip Boutell, Kenneth Gubbey, David Robert Talbot, Charles George King, Reginald John Nicholle, George Stapley and Honorary Secretary Lionel Percival Stevens for a service to the yacht Maurice Georges. The lifeboat had searched unsuccessfully for eight hours for a military aircraft that had come down. On the way back to her station a wireless message was received that the yacht was among the rocks of the Demie De Pas. A successful search located the yacht, which was then towed, with the four crew, back to the station after nine hours at sea.
  • 1950 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Acting Coxswain Silver Le Riche for rescuing three crew from the ketch Hanna in November 1949.
  • 1951 A Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain Edward Larbalestier for saving the yacht Santa Maria and her three crew.
  • 1953 The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was awarded to Coxswain Edward Larbalestier for rescuing the 11 crew from the motor vessel Brockley Combe.
  • 1967 The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was awarded to acting Coxswain Eric Grandin for rescuing four men from the yacht Kraken aground on Dogs Nest Reef.
  • 1973 A Silver Medal and the Maud Smith Bequest, for the bravest act of lifesaving carried out in 1973, were awarded to Coxswain Michael Berry for rescuing six people from the yacht Bacchus. The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was awarded to the remainder of the lifeboat crew.
  • 1975 HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, named the new lifeboat Thomas James King after the former coxswain and gold medallist (1949).
  • 1983 A Bronze Medal was awarded to Coxswain Michael Berry for rescuing the crew of two from the yacht Festina-Lente shortly before she was wrecked on 14 December 1982.
  • 1985 A Silver Medal was awarded to Coxswain Michael Edward Berry for rescuing the three crew from the yacht CytharaIl. The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum were accorded to the remainder of the crew.
  • 1989 The Tyne class lifeboat, ON-1157 Alexander Coutanche, was placed on service.
  • 1993 A new shore facility was built on Albert Pier providing improved crew facilities.
The naming ceremony by the Queen Mother of the Thomas James King (Picture Kevin Le Scelleur)
  • 1995 The Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum was awarded to Coxswain Robert Vezier for rescuing 55 of the 307 people onboard the passenger catamaran Saint Malo, which had struck a submerged object and was sinking in rough seas off Corbiere lighthouse on 17 April.
Lifeboat William Henry Wilkinson

21st Century

  • 2005 An inshore lifeboat (ILB) was co-located with the Tyne class lifeboat. The B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Eve Pank, was placed on service.
  • 2007 The new Atlantic 85 lifeboat David Page was placed on service.



We have so far not been able to find the name, if it had one, of Jersey's second lifeboat, which was launched on 2 December 1861. A self-righting design, it was paid for by the States and launched at West Park, presumably having been constructed by the Clarke shipyard there.

Mary and Victoria

Little is known about this lifeboat, which was in service in 1884 and was probably the first RNLI lifeboat sent to Jersey.

William Henry Wilkinson

St Helier's last rowed lifeboat, the William Henry Wilkinson was in service until 1937 and was then sold to W S Le Masurier and converted into a motor boat. She took part in the Saint Malo evacuation in June 1940 leaving Jersey on 16 June at 11 pm, returning on 18 June. Only ten days later she was destroyed by the German bombing of St Helier Harbour on 28 June.

Mary and Victoria in 1884

Howard D

The Howard D was the first motorised lifeboat to be stationed at St Helier. She was purchased by the yachtsman and philanthropist TB Davis at a cost of £3,623 in memory of the son he lost in the First World War, and arrived at the St Helier station in August 1936. She remained in service during the Occupation, despite RNLI plans to move her to the UK, which were overruled by the Bailiff just before the Germans landed. In 1996 the Jersey Heritage Trust bought the boat which is now being restored back to her original form as the Howard D by a group from the St Catherine’s Inshore Lifeboat crew.

She was replaced by the Elizabeth Rippon in 1948. The Howard D served for some years as a relief lifeboat before being sold. Renamed the Spero II she was used as a fishing boat on the coast of Norfolk and at one time her owner was the coxswain of the Wells lifeboat.

Built 1948 as the first of the 46 ft 9 in Watsons with a deck cabin, the Elizabeth Rippon was sold after spending years under private ownership touring off the Scottish coast

Elizabeth Rippon

The Elizabeth Rippon took over from the Howard D in 1948 and was in service until 1975. The Watson class lifeboat, which arrived on station in St Helier in October 1948, was the first British lifeboat with a covered deck cabin and aluminium alloy structure. Her top speed of 8 knots was considered fast.

Thomas James King

Named after an heroic former St Helier lifeboat coxswain, the Thomas James King came into service in 1975 and was officially named by the Queen Mother.

Built by Groves and Guttridge at Cowes, she served in Jersey from 3 February 1975 until December 1989, was launched 288 times and saved 155 lives. She cost £100,000, which was raised by an appeal in Jersey.

Alexander Coutanche

Named after Jersey's wartime Bailiff, later Lord Coutanche, the 14-metre Tyne class lifeboat, ON-1157 Alexander Coutanche, came into service in 1989. She remained in Jersey for 20 years, and after being replaced by the George Sullivan, she moved to the Calshot station.

George Sullivan

St Helier's Tamar class lifeboat George Sullivan, came into service in 2009 and has a top speed of 25 knots.

She cost £2.6million, raised from a Jersey appeal and three substantial legacies to the RNLI.

The £1.33 million raised by the appeal included a substantial donation in memory of George Sullivan, after whom the Tamar class lifeboat was named. Major George Langford Sullivan won the MC while serving in the army with the 14th/20th Hussars and moved from Ireland to take up residence in Jersey in the 1950s.

The all weather lifeboat was built by Green Marine in Southampton and fitted out at Babcock Marine in Plymouth.

St Helier lifeboat

St Catherine lifeboat

RNLI Jersey centenary stamps issued in 1984


The RNLI in Jersey has a small collection of oil paintings which feature in the Your Paintings project.

Click on any image to see a full-size version

A lifeboat launch exercise in 1939

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Elizabeth Rippon

General gallery

The Alexander Coutanche in rough seas

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The crew of the Howard D


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