RNLB Ruby and Arthur Reed II (ON 1097)

RNLB Ruby and Arthur Reed II (ON 1097)[1] was a Tyne-class lifeboat stationed at Cromer in the English county of Norfolk[2] from 16 December 1985[3] and was the No 1 lifeboat between various relief’s[4] until she was replaced after 21 years service by the Tamar-class RNLB Lester (ON 1287) in December 2007. Between 1996 and 1999, during the rebuilding of the pier head lifeboat house and slipway, she was temporarily replaced by a carriage launched Mersey-class lifeboat, RNLB Her Majesty The Queen (ON 1189). During the time that the Ruby and Arthur Reed was on station at Cromer she performed 120 service launches, rescuing 102 lives including 3 dogs. Nearly 50% of her launches took place during the hours of darkness and 17 of them saw her facing gale force 7 winds. Her service launches included helping 48 merchant and fishing vessels and 47 pleasure craft.

Ruby and Arthur Reed II
Owner: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Builder: Fairey Marine, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Official Number:ON 1097
Cost: £2.5 million
Launched: 1985
Sponsored by: £1.23m Bequest of Derek Clifton Lethern of Southfields, London
Christened: Monday 8 September by the Duke of Kent.
General characteristics
Type: Tyne class
Tonnage: 31.5 tonnes
Length: 52 ft 5 in (15.98 m) overall
Beam: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Draught: 1.35m
Installed power: Twin turbo Diesel engine of 1,015 bhp (757 kW) each
Propulsion: 2 X fixed pitch 5 blade propellers
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Range: 10 hours at 25 knots (46 km/h)
Capacity: 4,600 litres/1,000 gallons
Crew: 7 crew including a doctor

Design and construction

Ruby and Arthur Reed II was designed as a fast slipway boat (FSB) and featured a semi-planing hull fabricated from steel.[3] This hull had a shallow draught and a long straight keel with a flared bow above the waterline. To protect the propellers they were housed in tunnels[3] with substantial bilge keels, and a straight wide keel ending at a hauling shoe enabling winching for the boat when it was returned up the slipway back into the boathouse.[3] The wheelhouse had a low profile so as to fit into existing boathouses. Amidships there was a flying bridge with a separate cabin aft of the upper steering position.[3]


The lifeboats power came from twin General Motors GM6V92TA DDEC turbo-charged marine two-stroke diesel engines which could develop 525 brake horsepower (391 kW). These engines could push the lifeboat to a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h). At full speed there was enough diesel fuel in the tanks for ten hours service. At lower speeds the endurance was significantly increased. The engines were computer-managed, with data being displayed on twin screens which was viewed at both the Mechanic’s and the Helm position in the wheelhouse. Within the wheelhouse there were six seats for the crew plus a jumper seat for a doctor. Ruby and Arthur Reed’s equipment included satellite navigation apparatus interfaced through a PC to a visual chart display. Daylight viewing radar was used both for navigation and to search for casualties. There was VHF radio direction-finding equipment for locating vessels in trouble. The lifeboat also carried the latest DSC digital radio equipment for the vital radio communication used in search and rescue missions. The lifeboat was equipped with three VHF radios one of which was portable, together with an MF `long range`set. On the deck were powerful searchlights, and the lifeboat was also later equipped with image-intensifying night sight equipment. Ruby and Arthur Reed carried a large amount of first-aid equipment including both oxygen and entonox.

Notable rescues

Yacht Phaedra

During the early hours of 29 September 1988 a gale with winds in force eight to nine had occurred. Caught in this gale where the husband and wife crew of the yacht Phaedra out of Whitby. The skipper had no idea of his position and with the help from power from a car battery had used his VHF radio to call for help to the coastguard. The coastguard using the transmission to gain a bearing for the Phaedra placed her as thirty miles north east of Cromer. The coastguard called out the Ruby and Arthur Reed and within seven minutes of the call she was underway. In the meantime Rig stand-by vessels Desirade, Stout Truck and Vulcan Service were attending the yacht and stood by as she drifted in the relentless weather conditions. To save time reaching the yacht coxswain Richard Davies decided to take the Ruby and Arthur Reed across sandbanks. The coxswain reported that the lifeboat had handled well in the broken waters above the banks and 20 to 25-foot (7.6 m) waves had come aboard the lifeboats deck. At 2.30am the Ruby and Arthur Reed found the stricken yacht going round in circles with all sails set. At Davies request the sails were lowered and the yacht was taken into tow. The weather conditions made it impossible for the husband and wife to be taken off the yacht or for a lifeboatman to be put aboard. The decision was taken to tow the yacht in a southerly direction towards Bacton, a task that took the lifeboat seven hours. By 10am the lifeboat had towed the yacht to the lee of the land were conditions had improved. Now a crewman was put aboard the Phaedra and with increased speed the vessel was towed into Great Yarmouth by 12.30pm. The adverse conditions however, prevented the Ruby and Arthur Reed from returning to her station for several days.


For this exceptional and difficult service the thanks of the Institution on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain Richard Davis.

Service and rescues

Date Casualty Lives saved
24 January Tanker Orleans of Lowestoft, gave Help
24 January Rig standby vessel Boston Sea Stallion of Lowestoft, escorted
29 August Fishing vessel Nicholas of London, saved vessel 2
26 September Yacht Blythe Andora, gave help
8 February Tug Anna B, gave help
15 June Fishing vessel Sparkling Star, saved vessel 3
10 July Yacht Kass-A-Nova, saved yacht 4
15 July Coaster Luminance, gave help
17 July Lost diver, gave help
23 July Fishing vessel Two Sisters, saved vessel 1
4 August Fishing vessel Ever Hopeful of Great Yarmouth, gave help
29 August Skin Divers, landed 5
19 September Fishing boat G.N.D. of Great Yarmouth, escorted boat
29 September Yacht Phaedra of Whitby, saved vessel 2
1 October fishing vessel Courageous of Inverness, gave help
14 February RoRo cargo vessel Tor Gothia of Sweden, gave help
30 May Fishing boat, escorted vessel
30 June Yacht Serena, saved yacht 2
30 June Yacht Martlet, saved yacht 2
10 October Fishing vessel De Vroun Melanie of Lowestoft, stood by vessel
6 May Motor vessel, escorted boat
20 June Yacht Meander, gave help
6 August Standby safety vessel St Mark, saved 2 boats
30 August Floating drifter rig Rowville, gave help
16 September Fishing vessel Mar Tigre, stood by vessel
21 November Cargo vessel Stavroula, gave help
12 January Motor boat Sara B, escorted boat
19 February Vessel Bressay Sound, landed a sick man
10 June Yacht Tassella, gave help
20 July Yacht Illyria, saved yacht
29 July Yacht Cherokee II, gave help
21 August Gas survey vessel Fortissimo, Landed 3 and saved vessel
14 October Fishing vessel Isobel Kathleen, saved vessel 4
24 October Barge Rock, gave help
5 December Yacht Milford of Otley, saved yacht and 2 dogs 1
13 October Yacht Happy Bear, saved vessel 5
5 November Cargo vessel Daniella, gave help
7 December Rig stand by vessel, stood by
28 July Motor cruiser Heather Down, gave help
30 July Two skin divers, gave help
22 September Cargo vessel Nescio, took out doctor and landed injured man
12 March Cargo vessel Nordstar, in collision, escorted vessel
27 June Salvage vessel Putford Puffin, took out doctor and landed a sick man
5 July Diving support ship Ocean Stephaniturm, stood by ship
1 April Fishing vessel Juliet, 1 person and craft brought in
23 April Motor cruiser Blue Lancer, 2 person and craft brought in
21 July Two divers, gave help
24 July Yacht Giselle, saved craft 2
15 August Motor cruiser Ocean Diver, saved craft
10 July Six divers, six persons brought in after being saved by another lifeboat
10 July Dive support craft Desert Moon, 8 people and craft brought in
10 September Yacht Halcyon Oak, 2 people and craft brought in
3 October Yacht Lady Patience, gave help
16 December Powerboat Samphire of Wells, gave help
22 December Body in sea, gave help
11 March Passenger ferry Norstar, stood by
27 May Yacht Coquette, escorted vessel
16 June Dive support craft Crusader, 4 people and dog landed, craft brought in
10 July Ex-trawler Excelsior, saved vessel 9
14 January Tug Golden Cross, 4 people and vessel brought in
16 February Rowing boat Maximum Exposure, 1 person and craft brought in
25 February Tanker Zanita,escorted boat
17 May Rowing boat Maximum Exposure, saved boat 1
5 June Powerboat Whirlwind, 2 people and craft brought in
9 January Fishing vessel Zuider Zee, gave help
7 May Ketch Ngataki, 3 people and craft brought in
24 May Yacht Rambling Rose, gave help
7 September Sloop Just Joia, gave help
15 February Fishing boat Lisa Diane, stood by
3 March Fishing vessel Serene Dawn, 2 people and craft brought in
27 June Yacht Suli Suli, person and craft brought in
28 June Yacht Suli Suli, craft brought in
7 July Yacht Marie-Louise, 2 people landed and saved craft
19 July Motor cruiser Orovida, gave help
15 August Motor cruiser Dooby Soo, gave help transferred casualty to helicopter
27 August Motor cruiser Fiddlers Green, escorted vessel
16 May Motor cruiser Jester, 3 people landed and craft brought in
28 May Motor cruiser Scooby Doo 2, 2 people and craft brought in
18 June Dive support craft Wreckless, 4 people and craft brought in
7 August Yacht Arosa, 3 people landed and craft brought in
23 October Rig support vessel Iona, Landed an injured man
18 February Turkish coaster Willow, gave help


  1. The Cromer Lifeboats, by Bob Malster & Peter Stibbons,:Poppyland Publishing, ISBN 0-946148-21-X
  2. OS Explorer Map 252 - Norfolk Coast East. ISBN 978-0-319-23815-8.
  3. Cromer Lifeboat, A pictorial history, By Nicholas Leach & Paul Russell, Pub; Landmark Collector’s Library, ISBN 978-1-84306-363-6
  4. Cromer Lifeboats 1804-2004, Leach, Nicholas & Russell, Paul, Pub: Tempus Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7524-3197-8
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