RNLB Lester (ON 1287)

RNLB Lester (ON 1287) is the ALB lifeboat stationed at Cromer in the English county of Norfolk.[1] Cromer is the first lifeboat station on the east of England coast to receive the latest Tamar-class all-weather lifeboat. The lifeboat became officially operational at 3:55 pm on 6 January 2008. The lifeboat was officially christened Lester on Monday 8 September by the Duke of Kent. The lifeboats name Lester[2] has been created by using parts of the surnames of Derek Clifton Lethern and William Foster, both of whom have been long-term supporters and members of the RNLI. Mr Lethern left £1.23m to the RNLI when he died in 1992 and asked for a new lifeboat to be bought in memory of him and his friend Mr Foster.

RNLB Lester (ON 1287)
Owner: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Builder: Green marine/DML of Plymouth
Identification: ON 1287 (Official Number)
Cost: £2.5 million
Launched: 26 April 2007
Sponsored by: £1.23m Bequest of Derek Clifton Lethern of Southfields, London
Christened: Monday 8 September 2008 by The Duke of Kent.
General characteristics
Type: Tamar class
Tonnage: 31.5 tonnes
Displacement: 31.5 t (31 long tons)
Length: 16 m (52 ft) overall
Beam: 5 m (16 ft)
Draught: 1.35 m (4.4 ft)
Installed power: Twin turbo Caterpillar C18 Diesel engine of 1,015 bhp (757 kW) each
Propulsion: 2 X fixed pitch 5 blade propellers
Speed: 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h)
Range: 10 hours at 25 knots/250 nmi (460 km)
Capacity: 4,600 litres/1,000 gallons
Crew: 7 crew including a doctor
Y Class Daughter Boat
General characteristics
Y-207 Daughter Boat aboard Lester ON 1287
Type: Y class
Length: 3 m (9.8 ft)
Propulsion: 1 × Mariner outboard engine, 15 hp (11 kW)
Speed: 25 knots (29 mph; 46 km/h)
Range: Within visual range of ALB
Complement: 2
Notes: Official Number Y-207

Design and construction

Lester ON 1287 is a Tamar class slipway launched lifeboat, designed to replace the Tyne-class lifeboat. The Tamar class lifeboat is the most advanced vessel in the RNLI fleet. The Lester ON 1287 is loaded with new technology, including fly-by-wire joystick steering, suspension seats to protect crew in severe weather, and an onboard computer system called Systems and Information Management System or SIMS. SIMS allows complex tasks such as engine and navigation management to be displayed on a single flat LCD screen, six of which are positioned around the vessel, to allow crew to operate all the systems without moving from their seats. In the stern section of Lester ON 1287 there is a built in recessed chamber which house a small inflatable daughter boat. Access to the inflatable daughter boat is by means of lowering the transom, and lifting a section of deck. This allows the tender to be launched and recovered on to a ramp provided by the lowered transom section. On the Lester ON 1287 the Y class boat has the official number Y-207. The lifeboat's hull was manufactured at Green Marine[2] in Lymington, Hampshire, and is constructed from Fibre reinforced plastic (FRP). The fitting out was completed at the yards of DML[2] in Devonport, Plymouth, Devon. The lengthy process of fitting out involves all the main components being fitted into the vessel and secured to their mounting points. Once this has been done the component units are removed from the hull leaving the mounts in place and the interior is then painted. The lifeboat was built at a cost of £2.5 million and was launched on 26 April 2007.[2]

Lifeboat house modifications

Extensive work had to be carried out at the lifeboat station to upgrade the 38 metre pier end slipway to take the new- shaped vessel as well as alterations being carried out to the boathouse. The work on the station was carried out by the platform rig Haven Seaway[2] between August and October 2007.


After her launch the Lester ON 1287 underwent a long period of sea trials. Around 30 Cromer crewmen took part in these trials to familiarise themselves with their new lifeboat. On 8 October 2007 the lifeboat crew took part in a week of training aboard the new lifeboat at the RNLI Lifeboat college in Poole, Dorset. The lifeboat finally arrived at Cromer on 9 December 2007 and was recovered, for the first time, up her new slipway in to the boathouse. and the vessel was officially operational from 6 January 2008.

First service

Lester ON 1287 was launched on her first service on 14 January 2008. She attended the car carrier MF The City of Sunderland which had gone aground in the early hours of the morning on the southern edge of Happisburgh Sands.[3] The car carrier had been on passage from Zeebrugge to Tees Port near Middlesbrough. When the Lester arrived at the scene, two tugs from Felixstowe were attempting to tow the vessel off the sands. Assisting with the operation the crew of the lifeboat kept a watchful eye on the situation and stood by while the vessel carried out essential checks to her steering and propulsion systems once she was re-floated. The Lifeboat finally left the scene at 23:50 and made her way back to the pier boathouse for recovery.

Service and rescues

Date Casualty Lives saved
14 January Car carrier The City of Sunderland[3] had gone aground on the edge of Happisburgh Sands, stood by.
1 April Yacht, carried out a search for vessel, stood down when vessel located by Wells lifeboat.
29 April Cable Laying Barge UR101[4] of Aberdeen, take off an injured man.
10 May Catamaran Leyla, rendered assistance.
29 June Powerboat Silverline with steering failure, towed into Lowestoft.
11 July Yacht Cloud Nine developed electrical failure, rendered assistance.
23 July Car Ferry Pride of Bruges reported sighting of life raft; after search concluded that there was no life raft.
30 July Assisted in search for a missing person around Cromer Shore area. Daughter boat Y-207 launched from Lester to assist in search.
2 December Car and passenger ferry Pride of Rotterdam reports a man overboard. Involved in search along with 6 other lifeboats, 2 Sea king Helicopters and coastguards for 7½ hours. No one found.


  1. OS Explorer Map 252 - Norfolk Coast East. ISBN 978-0-319-23815-8.
  2. Cromer Lifeboat, A pictorial history, By Nicholas Leach & Paul Russell, Pub; Landmark Collector’s Library, ISBN 978-1-84306-363-6
  3. Report on incident, Car Carrier aground
  4. Photo of Cable Laying Barge UR101
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