R.N.L.I. relies on Wood & Douglas for crew communications

Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI)
SX500 bespoke build
Person-to-person communications
Industry / Vertical:
Emergency Services


More than 4,800 volunteer lifeboat crew members risk their own lives every year to save lives at sea with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (R.N.L.I.).

In charge of the all-weather lifeboat is the coxswain. Their duty is to rescue and safeguard the lives of those in danger whilst ensuring the safety of the lifeboat crew. Person-to-person communications plays a critical role during a rescue, but faces a range of challenges including high noise levels and physically harsh conditions which demand specialist knowledge and the highest quality of manufacture.


Wood & Douglas custom-designed the R.N.L.I. personal crew radio systems around the robust and resilient SX500 radio transceiver, delivering very high reliability regardless of conditions. R.N.L.I. crew communications, supplied through Davis Industrial, incorporates a radio built into the headphone and a boom microphone, both separate from the helmet itself, enabling crew to use the headset across a range of activities from sea to cliff rescue. Crew members are able to use the system handsfree, ensuring the coxswain’s orders are clearly heard and understood, but can also initiate talkback through a large push-to-talk button located on the chest.

Should a crew member be washed overboard, the radio can operate clearly for more than half a mile. This is in part enabled by embedding the headset antenna into the spiral gooseneck of the mic boom itself, ensuring the antenna remains above the water surface for clear transmission.

Wood & Douglas not only designed and manufactured the communications system, but also the audio interface to the microphone, the battery pack and the electronics for the switching: a complete, rugged, all-weather wearable communications system that enables crew members to get on with doing what they do best: saving lives.

  • Handsfree, rugged person-to-person communications for intense, stressful activity
  • Custom design and manufacture

It is our aim to never promise what we cannot deliver.

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