New Waveney Class Lifeboats

 

Article and Photos By Michael Pryce 

This articles first appeared in the "New Zealand Marine News"

(Quarterly journal of the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society Inc.)

Volume 47, Number 2, 1998

The Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation has acquired five fortyfour-foot Waveney class rescue vessels from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (R.N.L.I.) in U. K. to deal with long-distance rescues or to act as "mother" vessels in major rescue operations.
 
Twentytwo all-weather Waveney's were built by the R.N.L.I. between 1962 and 1982, based on a U.S. Coastguard (U.S.C.G.) cutter design, and designed to lie always afloat, as opposed to being launched from shore housing by slipway or carriage. They have a length of 13.62 metres, and a beam of 3.84 metres, displace 18.5 tonnes, and have twin diesels giving a speed of 15.5 knots. The first arrived on board Pegasus Bay at Wellington on 25th April 1998, destined for the Mana Volunteer Coastguard. She was lifted off by container crane on the morning of 26th April, and sailed around to Porirua Harbour later the same day.
 
Subsequent arrivals are to be based in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Auckland and all will be delivered over the next three years, with P. & O. Nedlloyd giving generous support by shipping all five vessels (one at a time) to New Zealand on board their container ships free of charge, forgoing freight of about $350,000.
 
We have mentioned Coastguard lifeboats from time to time previously, and Sumner lifeboats were mentioned in Vol. 47, No.1. The full story of lifeboats in New Zealand is extremely interesting, and the following is reproduced from the Coastguard Profile booklet published in 1997 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Federation.
 
"Coastguard is effectively part of New Zealand's history with the first community-based rescue boats at work in the early 1860s. They began in South Canterbury and on the West Coast. As South Canterbury opened up to farming, Timaru had no harbour and immigrant ships and small landing vessels had difficulty putting settlers ashore in bad weather. Many vessels foundered with loss of life. The first report of a rescue boat being on stand-by at Timaru came from the "Lyttelton Times" which reported in October 1861 that 'the lifeboat, stationed at Le Crens', could not be launched except by taking it a mile away. On 18th June 1862 the Canterbury Provincial Secretary wrote to London to order a double-ended 33-foot boat with a six-foot beam, complete with launching carriage and provision for six pulling oars and a steersman. It was built in England for o300 and arrived in Timaru in 1864. It was named Alexandra and the highlight of its long service record was the rescue in 1882 of fortythree passengers when two sailing ships, City of Perth and Benvenue, were wrecked. The boat made several rescues, then rolled four times with the loss of ten lives, including seven members of the rescue boat team. The spirit of courage and selflessness which Alexandra's crew showed in that storm goes on to this day as rescue boats go about their business. Across on the west coast of the South Island, sketchy records show that an English-built thirty-foot double-ended lifeboat was in action in 1865 at the gold rush shanty town of Okarito, south of Hokitika. Small sailing vessels from Australia and other New Zealand centres converged in 1864 on the estuary port as gold diggers arrived in droves and many vessels were wrecked at the entrance to Okarito.
 
Coastguard as we know it effectively started at Sumner, Christchurch, in 1898 when another double-ended lifeboat was imported from England to rescue those who got into trouble at the hazardous bar. It was New Zealand's first inshore rescue service and continues to this day as part of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation's network. Since 1898, Sumner Lifeboat Institution, which retains the same name today, has provided a 24-hour service with a series of bigger and better rescue boats.
 
"The use of the name 'Coastguard' started in Auckland in 1937 with the formation of a voluntary organisation run on paramilitary lines (complete with uniforms and ranks), which called itself the New Zealand Coastguard. It changed its name to the New Zealand Coastguard Service in 1947 but by 1964, when its membership had fallen to twentytwo, deliberately built into its title the word 'Volunteer'. That single decision publicly recognised the development of a purely voluntary approach to saving lives around New Zealand and since then the name Coastguard has come to reflect its volunteer role. The Federation was established at a meeting in Taupo in July 1976 by eight Coastguard organisations which felt the time had come to work together to develop a common approach to search-and-rescue. In a generous move, the New Zealand Coastguard Volunteer Service changed its name to Auckland Volunteer Coastguard Service to allow for the emergence of a new national organisation called The New Zealand Coastguard Federation. In 1981, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales toured New Zealand and spent many hours with Coastguard at Sumner, including a turn at the helm of a rescue boat. In 1990 he accepted an invitation from the Federation to recognise the valuable work of Coastguard by becoming its patron and Her Majesty the Queen granted the title 'Royal' on 17th September 1990. Today, the Federation represents fiftyfour voluntary Coastguard units and has full national coverage in all significant recreational boating waters.
 
"Many of the rescue boats today are of the new breed of rigid-hulled inflatables, manufactured in New Zealand, of high speed, with their light weight well-suited to rescuing people close to shore from small recreational craft. Some find that the older, more traditional, ex-R.N.L.I. boats imported for specialist roles such as the self-righting Rother class (Greymouth's Ivan Talley and Sumner's Rescue III) or fast, long-range, self-righting Brede class (Nelson's Sealord Rescue) look more 'lifeboatish'.
  
"The newly-acquired Waveney class boat was named Nicholsons Rescue at a sponsors' naming ceremony at Mana marina on 21st May 1998. This particular boat carried the number 44017 in the R.N.L.I. fleet, and was built in 1976, and carried the name The Nelsons of Donaghadee, stationed at Donaghadee until 1980. On 3rd September that year, she was renamed as Wavy Line at a ceremony in St. Katherine's Dock, London, by the Chairman of Wavy Line Grocers Ltd., Uxbridge, Middlesex, and was then allocated to the Relief Fleet, being used to relieve other lifeboats from their station to permit them to undertake surveys and overhauls. During this period, she served at Newhaven, Dover, Ramsgate, Hartlepool, Eyemouth,Whitby, Blyth, Humber, Amble, Sunderland, Teesmouth, returning to most stations for relief work on several occasions. Her R.N.L.I. service finished, she was stored at the R.N.L.I. Poole Depot from 25th April 1997 until loaded on to Pegasus Bay at Southampton on 8th March 1998. During her active career in U. K. waters, she had answered 230 call-outs and saved 74 lives.
 
"Affiliates of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation Inc. are based at Auckland,Canterbury, Cape Egmont, East Cape, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Hokianga, Howick, Kaikoura, Kaipara, Kapiti, Lake Brunner, Lake Taupo, Mana, Manawatu, Manukau, Marlborough, Motueka, Nelson, North Harbour, North Kaipara, Northland, Opitiki, Papakura, Raglan, Riverton, Rotorua Lakes, South Canterbury, South Taranaki, Sumner, Taranaki, Tauranga, Thames, Turangi, Waihau Bay, Waiheke, Waihi Beach, Waikanae, Waimakariri-Ashley, Waiuku, Wanganui, Wellington, West Coast-Buller, Whakatane, Whangamata, Whangaruru and Whitianga. It most cases the geographical name is part of its formal name, e.g. Kaikoura is Kaikoura Volunteer Coastguard Inc.
 
"Funding receives on-going support from the Lottery Grants Board together with funding from major national or local commercial sponsors, or through community fund-raising by Coastguard units themselves. The N.Z. Water Safety Council provides funding support for Coastguard's 'Day Skipper' course which is seen as a valuable aid to boating safety.
 
"The Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation invites funding support from individuals and commercial companies, and the Federation is an I.R.D.-approved charitable organisation and donations are tax deductible. Individuals can help by becoming a personal member of the Federation (annual subscription $22.50), by becoming a member of their nearest Coastguard unit, making a donation, leaving a bequest, or by becoming a principal, major, or contributing corporate sponsor of Coastguard.
 
Volume 48, Number 4, 2000
 
"We mentioned the Waveney class lifeboats in Vol. 47, No.2, and other recent lifeboat arrivals in Vol.47, No.4. The first former R.N.L.I Waveney class lifeboat to arrive was Nicholsons Rescue, operated by Mana Volunteer Coastguard as previously reported. In 2000 Waveney she was renamed Trust Poriua Rescue. The boat was built by Bideford Shipyard Ltd. in 1975 and carried the operational number 44-017.

The second Waveney class lifeboat was named P&O Nedlloyd Rescue by Waiheke Volunteer Coastguard. The boat was built by Bideford Shipyard Ltd. in 1975, carried the operational number 44-019 and was named Louis Marchesi Of Round Table. She had 506 service call-outs and saved 264 lives.

The third Waveney class lifeboat was donated to Kaikoura Volunteer Coastguard on 20th November 1999 and named John Barton Acland Rescue, after an early pioneer of high country station Mt. Peel, Canterbury. The boat was built by Fairey Allday Marine in 1982, carried the operational number 44-022 and was named The William And Jane. She had 149 service call-outs and saved 54 lives.

The fourth Waveney class lifeboat was named Rotary Rescue at Raglan on 5th December 1999, with aid from Hamilton Rotary Club. Raglan Volunteer Coastguard operates her. The boat was built by by Fairey Allday Marine in 1979, carried the operational number 44-020 and was named John Fison. She had 270 service call-outs and saved 102 lives.

The fifth Waveney class lifeboat arrived in New Zealand on board the container ship Mairangi Bay at Napier on 29th January 2000. She is to be operated by Hawkes Bay Volunteer Coastguard. The boat was built by by Fairey Allday Marine in 1980, carried the operational number 44-021 and was named Barham. She had 275 service call-outs and saved 82 lives.

The sixth Waveney class lifeboat arrived on board the container ship Resolution Bay at Wellington on 11th February 2000. The boat was built by Groves & Guttridge, East Cowes, in 1974, carried the operational number 44-010 and was named Thomas Forehead and Mary Rowse, stationed at Plymouth, England. She had 358 service call-outs and saved 126 lives. Operated by Taranaki Volunteer Coastguard, she was renamed Westgate Rescue, and is to also serve as a back-up pilot boat. She was unloaded directly into the harbour on arrival at Wellington and spent a few days in Chaffers and Seaview Marina before sailing for New Plymouth. With the exception of the Kaikoura lifeboat, all the others were purchased with a fifty per cent grant from The Lottery Grants Board. The balance came from local business and community sponsors. P&O Nedlloyd shipped all the lifeboats from Tilbury to New Zealand free of charge. All unloading charges were waived at Wellington, Napier and Auckland.

 My thanks go to the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society Inc. for allowing me to use this material.

Link to their web site

 

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