Registration number 3799
Status Registered

Previous names

  • 1964 - 2024 44-001


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


Builder US Coastguard Yard, Maryland
Built in 1964
Hull material Steel
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 2
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None


Length: Overall
44.83 feet (13.67m)
Breadth: Beam
12.67 feet (3.86m)
Tonnage: Gross


Built by the Coastguard Yard Build location: Curtis Town, Maryland in 1964, with a range was 95 nautical miles (Total range is twice the radius of action).  Her speed was 13 knots with a crew of five.

She had a self-righting type.

The lifeboat was shipped on the SS Alaunia on 19 May 1964, arriving at Littlehampton for Press Days 25-26 May 1964. 

Then to Appledore for service trials from 30 May 1964. CLASS HISTORY The WAVENEY class The first in a series of profiles of lifeboat classes The Waveney was the first of the RNLI's classes of 'fast lifeboat' and originated as a design operated by the US Coastguard for general purpose inshore work. The 44ft boat was designed with a 'semi-planing' hull form. This allows the hull to lift at speed, reducing drag and enabling speeds far greater than the 8 or 9 knots achieved by conventional 'displacement' hull lifeboats of the time. The first boat (44-001, not named) was built by the USCG and bought by the RNLI in 1964 for evaluation trials which lasted some 18 months. It was decided that the boat could cope well with UK conditions and at the end of the trials the Institution decided to build further boats to the design, but incorporating certain modifications. These included extra fuel tanks, a double bottom, extended wheelhouse and raised fore-and aft cabin tops to improve her self-righting ability. These modifications were not carried out retrospectively on 44-001 which therefore differs from other members of the class. The first Waveneys to be built by the RNLI (44- 002 to 44-007) were constructed in 1967 and 1968 by Brooke Marine on the River Waveney in Norfolk, that river giving the class its name. Subsequent boats were built by Groves and Gutterige (44-008 to 44-015), Bideford Shipyard (44- 016 to 44-019) and Fairey Marine (44-020 to 44-022), the last in 1982.] At first some crews were disconcerted by the relatively low initial stability, a function of her hull shape and the need for self-righting, but her general behaviour and high power which enabled her to 'climb out of anything' soon endeared her to lifeboatmen and the boats are universally liked by their crews. 

The first seven of the class (including 44-001) were built with two Cummins diesel engines, giving a speed of 13 knots, but the remainder were built with two GM (44-008 to 44-015), Ford Mermaid (44-016 to 44019) or Caterpillar (44-020 to 44-022) diesel engines giving a maximum speed of 16 knots. Earlier boats have since been re-engined with Caterpillar diesels, although power and speed remain unchanged. The coxswain is seated in an open, but protected wheelhouse, with seats for the remainder of the crew in the cabin. 

Two cabins, forward and aft, have space for survivors. Due to the hull form and the exposed propellers the Waveney is operated only at stations where the lifeboat can remain afloat. 44-001 SERVICE HISTORY RNLI Relief Fleet 1964-96. 

Her stations included: Solent, Barry Dock, Clovelly, Dun Laoghaire, Great Yarmouth & Gorleston, Harwich, Sheerness, Dover, Eyemouth, Whitby, Ramsgate, St Helier, Yarmouth IoW, Fowey, Alderney, Arklow. 44-001 undertook 304 (RNLI) service launches and saved 100 lives. Please see 'Operational Movements' sent separately. 

Re-engined 1981, repairs to split exhausts and new gear box fitted 1994. PURCHASE RNLI purchased from US Coastguard in 1964.

She was removed from service in 1996. 44-001 taken to be a display boat at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Initially she was an afloat exhibit but became a permanent static exhibit c2002. 

She was launched 265 times, saving 108 lives.

Acting Coxswain James Dougal was awarded a Silver Medal for gallentry in 1991.

OVERALL HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE 44-001 is significant in RNLI lifeboat history because she was the trials boat for the future adoption and development of a fast-afloat all-weather lifeboat. Following 44-001's trials, the RNLI built 21 Waveneys of their own between 1966-82.

Key dates

  • 1990-10-06 RNLI Silver Medal awarded to Acting Coxswain James Dougal at Eyemouth for service at night in a 100 knot hurricane and 35 foot seas to save two divers.

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