A construction barge has been towed into Swansea Bay to start work on a new £9.5m boathouse and slipway for the Mumbles lifeboat.
The new RNLI station will be built at the end of the 113 year-old Mumbles pier, which has listed status and will be restored.
There are also plans for a hotel, flats and visitor centre on the headland.
The RNLI said the boathouse redevelopment was a "big challenge" because of the bay's large tidal range.
The pier restoration will see the existing structure rebuilt on its original pillars, with many Victorian features retained.
The new boathouse will provide a home for the new Tamar class lifeboat, which boasts modern technology and is bigger and faster than the previous lifeboat.
The development is expected to take 18 months to complete and preliminary work has been going on since the end of June.
The RNLI said the arrival of the barge, whoch was towed across Swansea Bay on Tuesday, was an "exciting development".
Ameco Ltd, which owns the pier and sites on the headland earmarked for a hotel and apartments, said the scheme had reached a "significant stage".
Howard Richings, head of estates management for the RNLI, previously said: "The delicate nature of the historic pier means that the materials and construction plant will be brought in by sea to a jack-up barge that will provide the cranage for the piling and building work.
"An additional challenge unique to this project is the extreme tidal range - one of the biggest in the world - this will significantly affect construction of the slipway much of which lies in the inter-tidal zone and will be subjected to strong currents and rapidly changing water levels."
The project for the visitor and tourist centre has divided local opinion, with more than 1,000 people signing a petition against them, and an online campaign backed by more than 1,750 in support.
The Mumbles lifeboat station has been in operation since 1863.