Chiswick is one of four lifeboat stations on the Thames which became operational on 2 January 2002, providing a round-the-clock rapid response service for the capital.
Chiswick and the lifeboat stations at Tower Pier and Gravesend are manned continuously to provide an immediate response. Teddington however, is operated using volunteers in the same way as the RNLI operates its 223 lifeboat stations around the coasts of the UK and Republic of Ireland.
The RNLI was approached by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to provide the rescue service as a result of the findings of the Thames Safety Inquiries into the collision between the pleasure cruiser, The Marchioness, and the dredger, Bowbelle, which resulted in the loss of 51 lives in 1989, leading to a demand to step up search and rescue cover on the river. The MCA coastguard co-ordinates the rescue operation from a Port of London Authority operations room at the Thames Barrier.
Chiswick Lifeboat’s normal operating patch is between Richmond half tide lock and Battersea. With the powerful e-class lifeboat the crew can easily reach any incident well within the 15 minute target even if they are at one end of the patch.