In 1854 a Royal National Lifeboat Institute ( RNLI) inspector invented a cork lifejacket. Narrow strips of cork were sewn onto a canvas vest, so the lifejacket was flexible enough to move with the body.
In 1861, when one of Whitby’s lifeboats capsized on a service, just one crew member survived. Henry Freeman was the only one wearing this cork lifejacket. He went on to become a Coxswain at Whitby.
Since the days of the cork lifejackets, the RNLI has made huge advances in improving its safety equipment – from kapok lifejackets to beaufort lifejackets right up until the present day design.
After Sea Rescue’s Operations Director, Mark Hughes, and CEO Ian Wienburg saw the newly designed life jackets during a visit to the RNLI this year, they are investigating the possibility of NSRI using these life jackets on our vessels.