D Class

The D class lifeboat is one of three classes of inshore lifeboat (ILB) – the B, D and E classes.

The D class has been the workhorse of the service for over 50 years. The inflatable D class is highly maneuverable and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats and is specifically suited to surf, shallow water and confined locations, often close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves.

In 2010, D class lifeboats launched 2,401 times and rescued 1,639 people, saving 103 lives.


The D class lifeboat has a single 50hp outboard engine and can be righted manually by the crew after a capsize.

First introduced into the fleet in 1963, the design of the D class has continued to evolve since its introduction and the latest version was introduced in 2003.

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Equipment includes both fitted and hand-held VHF radio, night-vision equipment, and first aid kit including oxygen.

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Date introduced: 1963 but design has continued to evolve ever since
Launch type: Trolley or davit
Number in fleet: 155
Crew: 2-3
Length: 5m
Beam/width:Draught/depth: 2m0.52m
Displacement/load: 400kg
Max speed: 25 knots
Fuel capacity: 68litres
Range/endurance: 3 hours at maximum speed
Construction: Hypalon-coated polyester
Engines: 1 x Mariner at 40 or50hp
Survivor capacity: 5

Watch the D Class being constructed via webcam in its own purpose built manufacturing facility in Cowes.  Scroll down the Inshore Lifeboat Centre page to select from the list of live webcams: