The lifeboat station at Donaghadee harbour is one of the most important on the Irish coast covering the well travelled southern approaches to Belfast Lough. Founded in 1910, the station is equipped with an all weather Trent class lifeboat - RNLB Saxon (14-36) brought into service in 2003.
RNLB Saxon replaced the previous Arun class lifeboat RNLB City of Belfast (52-33), which had been a long time servant at the Donaghadee station and was built using funds raised by the people of Belfast . Upon her replacement by Saxon she served as relief lifeboat at a few of Northern Ireland ’s other lifeboat stations before going to Lifeboat Headquarters at Poole for storage.
Perhaps the best known lifeboat based at the Donaghadee station was RNLB Sir Samuel Kelly. Her biggest single rescue of lives at sea was on the 31st of January 1953 when she gallantly went out into the raging Irish Sea to rescue 32 of the 44 survivors from the stricken Larne – Stranraer car ferry Princess Victoria (IV). She carries the name of one of the famous Kelly family which served Northern Ireland ’s homes and industry so well with their collier fleet throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Sir Samuel Kelly has now been preserved and is on display at Donaghadee, standing near the harbour and her modern day counterpart.