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 Operation RESCUE
RML 526
Bringing a Royal Navy Gem Back to Life
“In a small way, this is the equivalent ambition, not just of
restoring HMS VICTORY, but getting her to sea, and then
making her pay her way!
I strongly support this ambition for RML 526”
Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC DL
First Sea Lord and Patron
The Rescue RML 526 is a very special WW2 Royal Navy Rescue Motor Launch. The lone authentic survivor of
nearly 900 of her class of sister ships.
She rescued allied aircrew from the English Channel – a dangerous and vital task. RML 526 is a Fairmile B type vessel. She served throughout the war as an armed rescue motor launch. Saw action on numerous occasions. During D Day, she supported other Fairmile B’s that led the invasion flotillas
onto their landing beaches, a perilous operation which was carried out with precision and courage.
After completing her initial task, she remained under fire for the rest of the day to provide support
and to rescue survivors.
RML 526 needs rescue herself now, 72 years old and in urgent need of moving from her
existing moorings in East Sussex to a secure berth to begin the first phase of work to secure
her grandfather rights to operate as a commercial vessel.
The Rescue will give her a new life with a new task To help today’s wounded service heroes rebuild their lives and commemorate the sacrifice
of the young volunteer seamen who gave their lives to save others during WW2.
“My wartime service in Coastal Forces was a significant period of my life. The young
volunteers of the ‘Little Ships’ relied on each Coastal Forces boat on which they served, to be
their family with the total support of their fellow crew members in ALL situations.
I would love this ship to be fully restored and back at sea.”
Don Tucker Coastal Forces Veteran with First Sea Lord – Admiral Sir George Zambellas
Our Partner Charities
2 The Project
To restore the only original example of a World War Two Fairmile B Rescue Motor Launch
pennant number RML 526.
Her senior Patron, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord is an enthusiastic supporter of the
project and his views are echoed by the MCA, who cite her as a ‘remarkable survivor’, the National
Museum of the Royal Navy who have granted her affiliate status in recognition of her historic and
technical importance, and her inclusion on the National Historic Ship’s Register (No.308).
The Business
The Not For Profit – Community Interest Company (C.I.C) will operate RML 526 by a Debenture
Sponsor scheme where a limited number of 26 debentures will be available to charter RML 526 on
a three year cycle.
Our Motto – What Goes Around Comes back Around
100% of profits will be distributed to:
1. Create a endowment for RML 526 and maintain her during her charter life going forward
2. Support our partner charities – Help 4 Heroes, Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity RNRMC
who will receive annual donations from the fund
3. At the end of the charter season RML 526 will be available to our partner charities and
other Charities and organisations – see note (i)
4. At the end of each three-year debenture cycle the Debenture Sponsor will nominate other
charities of their choice to receive the residual fund retained.
5. On the 100th Anniversary RML 526 will be gifted with her endowment to the National
Museum of the Royal Navy - 2042.
Very simply RML 526 will generate over her new life of 30 years £5 million disposable income
This will be distributed as follows:
£2 million to our Partner Charities – Help For Heroes & RNRMC
£1 million to other nominated Charities
£2 million to RML 526 Endowment fund
“Operating as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, she will, in business terms, 'wash her
own face’. This is to be highly commended”. Admiral Sir George Zambellas
Note (i)
A Gala dinner will be held at the end of the charter cycle. Our senior patron The First Sea Lord,
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, will host the first of the Gala dinners on board his Flag Ship HMS
Victory on the Lower Gun Deck, to announce the donations made to other charities
3 The Concept RML 526 is 34 metre in length with a beam of 6m and a draught of 1.3m. Her hull is double diagonal mahogany with a teak deck. Once restoration and refit is complete, RML 526 will be the largest surviving seaworthy Royal Navy
ship from World War Two.
The beauty of the Fairmiles is that they were designed to be rapidly re-roled. This concept will
continue. On the one hand RML 526 will be outfitted in WWII livery and weaponry
(decommissioned!) with an internal fit that replicates her wartime look. However, in less than 48
hours, thanks to clever design features, she will transform to 1940’s style gentleman’s yacht. With
three cabins, a galley, bar, snug, and dining areas, complete with a ex RN crew trained in VIP
hosting, RML 526 will be a benchmark for luxury.
The restoration will be led by Mr Tony Castro, a world renowned ship designer, who is eagerly
waiting to start work; with him on board, we can be assured of the quality of the finished product
where she will certainly turn heads in any marina or harbour. In Summary – RML 526 will be: The only original World War 2 warship in the world offering exclusive luxury charter
The largest surviving seagoing Royal Navy vessel of World War 2 still in external WW2
RML 526s historical significance recognized by both an affiliation of the National Museum
of The Royal Navy and her inclusion on the National Register of Historic Ships.
Operated as a Community Interest Company focused on preserving and celebrating this
singular ship, and supporting local and national charities.
RML 526 prior to the start of restoration work
RML 526 from her original plan
The History The Fairmile Company built 883 motor launches for the Royal Navy in a 6 different configurations
between 1940 and 1945. So efficient was the process that in 1941 one boat was produced every 36
hours. Unfortunately, only RML 526 survives as an authentic example of these vessels that
contributed to operations in almost all theatres of World War Two. These craft were used for mine
laying, mine sweeping and convoy protection, as well as serving as a rescue craft, saving the lives of
thousands of downed airmen. With their sleek lines, high speed, and exceptional agility, they were
often referred to as ‘The Spitfires of the seas’.
The Fairmile Bs fought with distinction throughout the war and played an important part in the
raid on Dieppe and Operation Chariot, the raid at St Nazaire. During the latter action, the only
Victoria Cross awarded on the strength of a citation written by a German Officer was won.
Sergeant Durrant received the award posthumously after engaging an overwhelmingly superior
German destroyer from his crippled ML 306. After receiving many wounds, Sgt Durrant was urged
to surrender, however, despite the inevitable outcome of his actions, he responded by continuing to
fire on the bridge of the destroyer. A second posthumous VC was awarded to Able Seaman Savage
on ML 314.
Fairmile warships fought with distinction in all theaters of WW2, some well known – the
Mediterranean/Aegean, desperate heroics in the freezing seas off Norway and sadly, less
well known, but of equal importance the under resourced and often forgotten struggle to
defeat the Japanese in the Far Eastern campaign.
5 In a largely forgotten campaign between 1943 and 1945 Imperial, Dominion and British
naval units from Burma, India ,Australia, New Zealand, South Africa were fighting
together in Fairmile ‘B’s’ at the Far Eastern theatre to great effect suffering terrible
privations and heavy casualties. It was a remarkable late flowering of the British Empire –
young volunteers from a multitude or races, creeds and continents joining to defeat a
barbaric enemy.
Why Restore RML 526?
Over 25,000 personnel served in the British Royal Navy Coastal Forces during World War
Two, the majority of them were young volunteers; their average age was 22. Over the
course of the war, they destroyed over 800 enemy vessels, including 45 E boats and 32
midget submarines and, in cooperation with the Royal Air Force, rescued over 13,000
Allied aircrew. Dale Van Blair, a U.S B-24 Liberator pilot who was rescued after ditching
in the English Channel in 1943, said:
“I had never felt so completely alone. Then, off in the distance, I saw the most beautiful
object that I had ever laid eyes on: a boat heading in my direction.”
Dale later learned it was it was RML 498 who rescued him and the remaining crew.
A Tribute
Don Tucker’s service, and the sacrifice of his friends and comrades, deserves a fitting
tribute. Whilst there are many plaques to the Coastal Forces around the world, we can
think of no better commemoration than RML 526 herself. Returned to her wartime livery
and splendor, she will be a living memory to the men, and the actions of, Coastal Forces.
She will be available to charities, youth organisations and the general public over each 3year period with the long-term objective to return her to public ownership through The
National Museum of the Royal Naval on her hundredth birthday.
Coastal Forces Memorial
6 Portsmouth May 1944
King George VI
On board RML 526’s sister ship to inspect the D-Day invasion fleet
and wish God-speed to personnel taking part in the great assault