The boatbuilding school has restored the earliest-known example of a RIB and will be displaying it in an exhibition in Bexhill-on-Sea


The earliest-known prototype of a Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat (RIB) has been saved from the scrapheap by Atlantic College.

Built in the 1960s to Admiral Desmond Hoare’s original design, the Atlantic College prototype has been restored and is undertaking its final 550-mile voyage from the South Wales boatbuilding school in Llantwit Major to Bexhill-on-Sea.

Once the four-metre craft arrives at its East Sussex destination on Saturday (5 July), it will go on display as part of an exhibition on the history of the RIB at the De La Warr Pavilion.

Despite its advanced years, the vessel was still able to cruise at an average speed of 17 knots on its most recent leg from Falmouth to Dartmouth (28 June), where it was met by members of RNLI Dart.

Since Atlantic College sold the patent to the RNLI for £1 in 1969, the RIB has gone on to become the charity’s most active type of vessel, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

However, Robin Jenkins, RNLI crew member and curator of the exhibition, stressed the need for further innovation in lifeboat design in the future:

“With the increase of risk from flooding, globally we are seeing a greater need for expertise in the search and rescue of people affected,” he said.

To this end, Mr Jenkins aims to raise £20,000 so that Atlantic College can design a new type of flood rescue boat. More details are available on the project’s JustGiving page.