In 1867, the crew of the Norwegian Barque Egbert was rescued by the fishermen of Bembridge in an ordinary open boat. At the same time, the Nab Lightship had been removed to a greater distance from the shore. Bembridge needed a lifeboat.
In July 1867 the Committee of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution decided to base a lifeboat at Bembridge using £524 donated to the RNLI by the citizens of Worcester. The life-boat was named for its donors, the City of Worcester, was delivered in October of that year. In November she was called out for the first time, in rough weather, to assist the brig Bessie, of Sunderland, seen to anchor dangerously nearby. (She was guided safely into Bembridge Harbour, the RNLI later awarding £7 4s 0d to the lifeboat crew).
The all-weather lifeboat house constructed in 1922 survived until 2009 when it was demolished. The last Lifeboat to use the old boathouse was the Tyne Class Lifeboat - Sir Max Aiken III. The new station, built to house the new Tamar Class lifeboat was completed in 2011 and cost approximately £7,000,000.
Bembridge lifeboat station is classified as a key station by the RNLI and is strategically situated in the Solent, home to one of the busiest shipping lanes in our waters used by over 100,000 commercial ships per annum.
From the lifeboat station can be seen tankers and product carriers, container ships, car carriers, cruise liners, naval warships, trawlers, dredgers, coasters and ferries. The Solent is also used by thousands of pleasure craft: for instance, during the annual Round-the-Island Race, up to 2,000 sailing yachts of all types pass Bembridge in one day.
Calls for help include requests for medical evacuations (medevacs), problems with power loss, steerage, dismasting, flooding, man-overboard and many others.
In order to cope with so many diverse incidents, Bembridge has two lifeboats: a Tamar Class all-weather Lifeboat (ALB) - the Alfred Albert Williams (16-17), and a D-class inshore lifeboat (ILB), Dorothy Beatrice May Gorman (D-649)
The ALB can be launched in all weather conditions and provides cover primarily in the Eastern Solent and out to the mid-point of the English Channel south of St Catherine’s Point. With the downgrading of RNLI Calshot in 2012, we also now provide ALB cover in the Central Solent up the Cowes (or further west if required). The ILB is obviously more limited in what she is able to do and what weather & sea conditions she can be safely operated. Ideal for beach rescues and helping capsized dinghies or small yachts.
Our eastern ALB flanking station is at Selsey, the western is at Yarmouth. There are also RNLI stations at Hayling Island (Atlantic 85 & D-Class), Portsmouth (Atlantic 85 & D-Class), Cowes (Atlantic 85), Calshot (Atlantic 85 & D-Class) & Lymington (Atlantic 75).
In 2013, the Bembridge Lifeboats were launched (on operational shouts) 36 times, rescuing or assisting 67 people. Over 50% of these callouts took place in the dark.
In 2012, the Bembridge Lifeboats were launched (on operational shouts) 40 times, rescuing 65. people. Over 50% of these callouts took place in the dark.