In partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority, the NMRN are undertaking an ambitious project to bring this important vessel to Hartlepool. Situated alongside the Museum, visitors will get to know the vessel, its important nationwide history and watch exciting conservation in action.
RML 497 is a Fairmile B Coastal Forces vessel which saw service throughout the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Built in Southampton in 1941, RML 497 rescued downed RAF pilots from the North Sea, trained Commando soldiers in the South West, conducted a Commando raid on the Channel Islands, taking a German hostage, and encountered an E Boat when burying a German soldier.
After the War RML 497 was decommissioned and became a passenger ferry along with other Fairmile B vessels out of Brixham Harbour. Renamed Western Lady III, the vessel continued to be used for passenger service until 2015 .
The vessel is important for three main reasons: Design & Construction, Service and Heritage.
RML 497 is an example of coastal forces craft built across the world as part of a new assembly line of small boatbuilding. Mass produced components were centrally produced, en masse, and sent out to small boatyards across the world to assemble. It revolutionised the war effort, accelerating the Allied supply of quick and adaptable vessels.
Serving from the Orkney Islands to the Channel Islands, RML 497 encapsulates the importance of the coastal forces fleet in the nationwide campaign to protect the United Kingdoms waters. The vessels later and longstanding service as a passenger vessel symbolises the impact these vessels had on the maritime coastline decades after the end of the Second World War.
The final area of importance is the heritage. RML 497 has an incredibly intact original hull, making the vessel the best example of a Fairmile B remaining in the World today.