Cromer Lifeboat Ruby and Arthur Reed ON 990

Career British RNLI Flag
Owner: Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Builder: William Osborne, Arun Shipyard, Littlehampton, West sussex
Official Number: ON 990
Donor: Gift of Mrs R. M. Reed, Eastbourne, in memory of her Husband of Stanford
Station Cromer
Cost: £60,000
Launched: 1966
Christened: 21 June 1967 by Mrs R M Reed
Fate: A static display in the middle of a rounderbout at Hythe Marina on the Waterside opposite Southampton Docks.
General characteristics
Type: Oakley
Displacement: 30 tonnes
Length: 48 ft 6 in (14.78 m) overall
Beam: 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m)
Draught: 1.35m
Installed power: Twin Gardner 6LX Diesel engine of 110 bhp (82 kW)
Propulsion: 2 X fixed pitch 5 blade propellers
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h)

Ruby and Arthur Reed (RNLI Official Number 990)[1] was an Oakley Class lifeboat of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) stationed at Cromer in the English county of Norfolk[2] from the 30 April 1967[3] and was the No 1 lifeboat between various relief’s[4] until she was replaced after 17 years service by the Tyne Class Ruby and Arthur Reed II on the 16 December 1985. During the time that the Ruby and Arthur Reed was on station at Cromer she performed 125 service launches, rescuing 58 lives.


Design and construction

Ruby and Arthur Reed was built in 1966[4] at the yard of William Osborne at Littlehampton, West Sussex [4]. She was an Oakley class self-righting design which combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of the lifeboat capsizing[5]. This was achieved by a system of shifting water ballast. The system worked by the lifeboat taking on one and half tons of sea water at launching in to a tank built into the base of the hull. If the lifeboat then reached a crucial point of capsize the ballast water would transfer through valves to a righting tank built into the port side[5]. If the capsize was to the starboard side of the lifeboat, the water shift started when an angle of 165° was reached[5]. This would push the boat into completing a full 360° roll. If the capsize was to the port side, the water transfer started at 110°. In this case the weight of water combined with the weight of machinery aboard the lifeboat usually managed to stop the roll and allow the lifeboat to bounce back to upright[5].

Hull construction

The hull of the Ruby and Arthur Reed was constructed from African mahogany[disambiguation needed ] built with two skins[5]. Each skin was diagonally laid with a layer of calico laid between the skins. The outer skin was ⅜ of an inch thick with the inner skin being ¼ of an inch thick. The keel was iron and weighed 1.154 tons. The hull was divided into eleven watertight compartments. The lifeboat was 48 feet 6 inches (14.78 m) in length and 14 feet 0 inches (4.27 m) in beam and displaced 12 tons 1cwt[5], when fully laden with crew and gear. She was fitted with twin 110 hp Gardner 6LX six cylinder diesel engines, which moved her over the water at 9 Knots[4]. Ruby and Arthur Reed’s aluminium wheelhouse was positioned amidships and was fully enclosed which provided welcome crew protection from the elements. Aft of the lifeboat there was another cabin which served as the chartroom and also housed all the lifeboats electronic equipment[4].


The lifeboat was fitted with Decca 060 radar and all she carried Pye Westminster VHF and an Ajax MF Radiotelephone. In addition a radio Direction Finding set was carried, which gave a magnetic bearing to a transmitting station. The electric searchlight was standard along with Pains Wessex speedlines.


Ruby and Arthur Reed was on station at Cromer for seventeen years and during that time she was launched 125 times and she saved fifty eight lives. Her first service took place on the fourth of July 1967[1] to a motor fishing vessel called Renovate. The fishing boat’s engine had failed and she was at anchor two miles east of Haisborough Sands. Two engineers from the Royal Naval minesweeper HMS Belton were put aboard to try to repair her. Coxswain Henry Shrimp Davies [1] and his Lifeboat stood by through the night until the boats engines were once again working.

Service and rescues

Date Casualty Lives saved
July 4 Motor fishing vessel Renovate, stood by
January 20 Motor vessel Alme of Meppel, took out doctor
September 3 Haisborough Lightvessel ,landed a sick man
October 10 Crab boat Lewis James of Cromer, gave help
December 19 Trawler Rotha of Lowestoft. Landed a sick man 1
February 4 Dinghy, saved dinghy 3
March 2 Motor launch Pinnace, of Poole saved launch 2
March 31 Steamship Alice Bowater of London, landed a sick man 1
May 11 Fishing boat Provider of Cromer, saved boat 2
May 13 Tug Workman of Hull stood by tug with warhead on board
June 30 Cabin cruiser She’s a Lady. Assisted to save cruiser 3
July 11 Motor vessel Ramso of Copenhagen, escorted
August 23 Trawler Filby Queen of Lowestoft, landed a sick man
August 30 Yacht Stilalisanin landed 1 and saved yacht
September 18 Trawler Rock Fish of Lowestoft, took out doctor
November 15 Gas Rig Hewitt Alpha , gave help
January 3 Motor vessel Friederike of Brake, landed a sick man
January 14 Trawler Suffolk Kinsman of Lowestoft. Landed a sick man
January 22 Motor fishing boat Thistle, saved boat 3
May 10 Motor fishing vessel Kindly Light, gave help
May 21 Pipe laying vessel WD Tideway, landed a sick man
June 26 Motor fishing vessel Normanby of Bridlington, gave help
November 12 Fishing boat My Beauty of Cromer, give escort
May 15 Cabin cruiser Nadine Leah, gave help
June 13 Yacht Gentle Nimbus, gave help
May 5 Two fishing boats, stood by
May 20 Trawler Boston Viscount of Lowestoft, landed injured man
August 21 Fishing boat Cossack, saved boat 4
September 12 Cabin cruiser New Prince of Wales, saved cruiser 3
October 25 Fishing boat Provider of Cromer. Saved boat 4
March 22 Motor vessel Silver Sands, landing a sick man 1
1973 to August 1974 of station for refit
August 31 Lightvessel LV.22, landed sick man
September 10 Motor vessel Langstone Tern, escorted boat
November 1 Motor vessel Dutch Sailor, landed an injured man
February 21 Cargo vessel Fortuna II, landed an injured man
May 22 Royal Naval ship HMS Shevington, sick man gave help
September 8 Yacht Irishman, saved boat 10
October 26 Cruiser Andruss, saved boat 2
December 12 Freighter Alexandria, stood by vessel
December 14 Freighter Alexandria, stood by vessel
February 6 Trawler Suffolk Conquest, took out Doctor to injured man
June 23 Cargo vessel Garden Saturn, stood by vessel
August 7 Fishing vessel Albert, saved vessel 2
August 18 Haisborough Lightvessel, landed an injured man
September 15 Yacht Mr Micawber, saved boat 2
October 18 Fishing boat Sea Green, gave help
February 19 Cargo vessel Atlantic Duke, stood by vessel
February 22 Catamaran Katabatic, gave help
February 24 Chemical carrier Thorodland of Panama, stood by vessel
March 18 Cargo vessel Femmy Lian, of Cyprus, gave help
April 18 Cargo vessel Star River of France, gave help
July 27 Cargo vessel Heye-P of Germany, injured man gave help
September 9 Yacht Autumn Liz, gave help
November 14 Cargo vessel Nimrod, of Jersey, 1
December 24 Cargo vessel Rafaela of Panama, stood by vessel
August 16 Fishing boat, gave help
September 4 Fishing boat Charles Perkins, gave help
1978 to May 1979 of station for refit
May 22 Fishing boat Concorde II, missing crewman, landed body
June 6 Yacht Victoria George gave help
June 6 Tug Englishman, stood by vessel
June 20 Oil rig standby vessel Boston Hornet, took out Doctor, landed a sick man
January 5 Fishing vessel Ellen, of Great Yarmouth, gave help
January 17 Cargo vessel Lendoudis Evangelos of Greece, gave help
April 8 Fishing boat, escorted home
May 3 Motor fishing vessel Bess of Denmark, saved boat 4
June 23 Motor vessel Jenny Glen of Kings Lynn, saved boat 2
January 30 Cargo vessel Ems of West Germany after collision, recovered life raft
January 30 Cargo vessel Undine of Belgium after collision, recovered life raft
June 2 Fishing boat Provider of Great Yarmouth, gave help
August 2 Cabin cruiser Lancer, gave help
August 2 Cabin cruiser Falcon, gave help
August 13 Helicopter, gave help
November 30 Oil rig supply vessel The Cuttlefish 2
September 17 Skin Diver, gave help
September 21 Fishing boat Provider of Cromer, escorted
September 21 Fishing boat Elizabeth Kathleen of Wells-next-the-Sea, escorted
December 12 Motor boat Trade Winds, saved boat 2
July 12 Fishing boat Ventura of West Runton, landed injured man
February 15 Cargo vessel Camilla Weston, of London, landed 5
May 9 Cargo vessel Marie Anne of Germany, landed sick man
July 12 Aircraft, recovered the wreckage
July 13 Fishing boat G.N.D., of Great Yarmouth, saved boat 2
August 15 Cargo vessel Emily P.G., of Shorham landed injured man
September 4 Fishing boat Provider of Great Yarmouth, escorted
September 1984 Retired from Cromer


  1. ^ a b c The Cromer Lifeboats, by Bob Malster & Peter Stibbons,:Poppyland Publishing, ISBN 0 946 148 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. ^ a b c d e Cromer Lifeboats 1804-2004, Leach, Nicholas & Russell, Paul, Pub: Tempus Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7524-3197-8
  5. ^ a b c d e f Oakley Class Lifeboats: An Illustrated History of the RNLI's Oakley and Rother Lifeboats: By Nicholas, Nicholas :Published by The History Press Ltd: ISBN 978-0-7524-2784-3

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