by Chiswick RNLI

Chiswick’s E Class lifeboat shows why pulling power is vital on the Thames

During the hot summer the Chiswick RNLI lifeboat was called to a number of vessels in difficulties. With 870 horsepower from twin diesel engines the E class lifeboat, is capable of towing large steel barges weighing over 90 tons, while the water jet propulsion allows gentle and accurate manoeuvring.

Chiswick Lifeboat assisting broken down barge

The E-Class, which was specially designed for work in the capital proved its worth in August when a large dutch barge lost power near Barnes. A 90 ton vessel drifting with the tide is a serious hazard to other river users. The crew were able to set up an alongside tow and easily take the barge to a safe mooring despite the huge difference in size. A few days later the crew had to recover a 2 storey houseboat which had came adrift.

A week later a motor cruiser lost power off Strand on the Green but there was a fast running incoming tide sweeping it towards Kew Bridge. The quick thinking skipper immediately deployed the anchor and the vessel came to a stop a few metres from the bridge abutments. In this position the vessel was an obstruction for other river traffic passing through the central arch of the bridge.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crew set up an alongside tow, helped the boat’s crew raise the anchor and took it to safety at Chiswick Quay Marina.

Helmsman Tony Coe commented ‘The hot summer weather this year brought many more people onto the Thames in a range of craft. We would encourage anyone taking a vessel onto the river to ensure it is well maintained as it is very easy to get caught out by the swift currents. The RNLI has many sea safety volunteers who advise boat owners on safety equipment and boat checks as well as running lifejacket clinics. Anyone can contact the RNLI to find out more:

RNLI Media contacts:

David Clarke, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people. As well as saving lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the RNLI also plays a huge part in protecting people’s safety on some of our inland waterways including the River Thames, where it operates four lifeboat stations at Teddington, Chiswick, Waterloo Bridge (Tower Lifeboat Station) and Gravesend. Tower and Chiswick are the two busiest RNLI stations, responding to around 10% of the calls across all 238 RNLI stations in 2018. Unlike many other stations, Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend operate with a round-the-clock crew who are ready to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call coming in. At each station, the full-time crew work alongside volunteers who come from all different 'day jobs' such as bankers, TV producers, civil servants, students and other emergency services, and give up their time to help save lives on the Thames.