These safety inspectors are so happy to be all at sea

This team of food and safety inspectors certainly have to prove they have sea legs as they inspect giant tankers moored between Lowestoft and Southwold.

The Waveney District Council inspectors are believed to be the only type of officials in the country who board oil tankers to make sure they are safe and healthy and comply with pollution control regulations.

Their role is growing in importance as the sea between Lowestoft and Southwold has become a prime area for ship-to-ship oil transfers with up to 50 giant vessels moored off the coast at peak times.

And from April there will be bound to be more demand for six-monthly inspections of tankers to make sure they follow World Health Organisation standards as the region will be the only location where tankers can transfer oil off Britain.

The sight of small tankers full of Russian oil waiting to pass on their load to larger vessels has raised concerns along the Suffolk coast that it could lead to environmentally disastrous oil spills.

To help allay any fears, two inspectors board tankers within the 12-mile territorial limit to check pollution control certificates, sewage and waste disposal systems and to see if there is any infestations of pests, such as rats and cockroaches.

As the inspectors board the tankers in 2m swells and tour the enormous vessels, it makes a stark contrast to visits to kebab shops, restaurants and pub kitchens.

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But the team of inspectors enjoy the unique challenge they face going on board after they are dropped off by a East Coast Charter boat.

Inspector Paul Goldsmith said: 'We are a unique team as I believe we are the only inspectors of our kind to inspect tankers in the country.

'It is exciting and different for the team.

'Two hours after inspecting a tanker we can be inspecting a food outlet. No two days are the same.

'The safety standard on board the tankers is very high and the crew are always very co-operative.'

The tankers are also vigorously inspected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.