Michael Stephens

Michael Stephens is a 46-foot Watson-class motor lifeboat built in 1939 by J. S. White in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The 23-ton lifeboat is powered by two Ferry diesel engines and served at Lowestoft between 1939 and 1963. This lifeboat, together with the Gorleston lifeboat Louise Stephens, was paid for from a legacy of the family they were named after.

Michael Stephens was one of many little ships used in 1940 to help evacuate British troops from Dunkirk. She ferried soldiers out to bigger ships, initially from the harbour but when that became too difficult, from the beaches. Whilst undertaking this duty in the dark, the Michael Stephens was rammed twice by motor torpedo boats. Although it is not known how many soldiers the Michael Stephens ferried out to the waiting ships, she did return to Dover with 52 soldiers on board.

The Michael Stephens served at Exmouth from 1963 until 1968 before being placed in the relief fleet until 1975 when she was sold out of service. In her 36 years service with the RNLI, excluding her Dunkirk involvement, the Michael Stephens launched 182 times and saved 92 lives.

Her current owners found the Michael Stephens in 1976 at Crosshaven, County Cork in the Republic of Ireland. She still has her original Ferry diesel engines and controls and is retained as original above deck. Below deck she has been converted for cruising and has visited ports in Holland, Normandy, Brittany, Ireland, the west, south and east coasts of England and the isles of Scilly. The lifeboat attended Falmouth RNLI’s event in 2017 celebrating the station’s 150th anniversary.

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