Registration number 1687
Status National Historic Fleet

Previous names

  • 1956 B.A.S.P.
  • 1955 - 1996 VALENCIA


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Lifeboat
Location Chatham Historic Dockyard
Vessel type Watson Class Lifeboat
Current use Museum based
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No


Builder White, J Samuel & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Built in 1924
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
12.49 feet (3.81m)
Length: Overall
44.98 feet (13.72m)


BASP is a Watson Class lifeboat built by J Samuel White in 1924.  Although built as one of the first motor lifeboats she was also fitted with a mast and sails in case her single 80 hp engine failed. The vessel was the first lifeboat at the new Yarmouth IOW station in 1924.  She later served at Falmouth, Cornwall and then for short periods at Rosslare, Ballycotton, Dunmore East and Dun Laoghaire.

During her 10 years at Yarmouth she was launched 81 times and saved 37 lives. She continued working in the Relief Fleet until 1954 when she was overhauled and finally sold out of service in 1955.  BASP now forms part of the Historic Lifeboat Collection at Chatham.


  1. What is the vessel’s ability to demonstrate history in her physical fabric?

Evidence for designs, functions, techniques, processes, styles, customs and habits or uses and associations in relation to events and people.  How early, intact or rare these features are may impact on significance.

BASP is a Watson Class design built by J Samuel White & Co. in 1924.  She was one of the first motorized lifeboats and was constructed with a 6' 5" steel drop keel, six round loom ash oars with crutches, standing lug and jib.  Following conversion to a houseboat on leaving service, her engine no longer survives and her cabin has been replaced from another lifeboat of similar form.  The new cuddy has more rounded edges than the original. She retains no internal accommodation, bulkheads, equipment or fittings.  Her foredeck and part of the toe rails have been replaced, with some damage to the starboard side.  However, her hull remains largely as built and she has her original deck fittings.

  1. What are the vessel’s associational links for which there is no physical evidence?

Associations with people or places. Off-ship research.

BASP was based at Yarmouth IOW, Falmouth and Ireland during her career giving her regional significance to these areas. She was the first lifeboat on station at Yarmouth which replaced Totland Bay in 1924 due to the difficulty of launching a motor lifeboat at the latter.  She was named by the Duke of Windsor, then Prince of Wales, at the official opening day. In 1926, Mr J.J. Coates, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and his wife, were landed from HMS WESTMINSTER and Lord Jellicoe went out in BASP. She took part in various rescues involving international shipping, including ss URKIOLA MENDI of Bilbao in 1926, ss YAPALAGA of Philadelphia and ANNEMARIE OF HAMBURG in 1927 and ss ESTHER MARIA of Esbjerg in 1938.  She was launched 81 times, saving 37 lives and was recorded on the National Register of Historic Vessels in 1999.

  1. How does the vessel’s shape or form combine and contribute to her function?

Overall aesthetic impact of the vessel, her lines, material she was built from and her setting.  Does she remain in her working environment?

As one of the later vessels built of the 45-foot Watson Class, BASP was constructed to a revised design with a cabin capable of taking twenty survivors situated ahead of the engine room and was flush-decked.  Some adaptations were made during her service life, such as an extended canopy and changes to the belting.  Her hull retains its original shape and form, painted in the traditional RNLI livery. She is on display as a static exhibit as part of the RNLI collection at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.

Source: NHS-UK team, April 2024

Key dates

  • 1920 Built in Isle of Wight as a lifeboat
  • 1955 Sold out of service, re-named VALENCIA and used as a pleasure craft
  • 1996 On display at Chatham Historic Dockyard

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