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More ships anchor off Suffolk coast

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 06 July 2010

Tankers anchor off the coast at Southwold.

Tankers anchor off the coast at Southwold.

Hayley Mace

The economic slowdown may be behind the increasing number of tankers which are anchored off the north Suffolk coast.

A number of large cargo ships, thought to be gas and oil tankers, have been visible off the coast around Lowestoft and Southwold for several weeks and the number seems to be on the increase, with up to 25 being counted on some clear days.

The economic slowdown may be behind the increasing number of tankers which are anchored off the north Suffolk coast.

A number of large cargo ships, thought to be gas and oil tankers, have been visible off the coast around Lowestoft and Southwold for several weeks and the number seems to be on the increase, with up to 25 being counted on some clear days.

It has been suggested that the recession and high oil prices have prompted a lull in work for the tankers, meaning that they need to anchor offshore to wait for instructions from their operators when more work comes in.

Southwold mayor Sue Doy said that in recent days, the number of boats anchored off the resort seems to have increased.

She said: “There seems to be more there than ever at the moment. They stretch from past the pier round to right in front of the town.

“At night they look like a little town out at sea because they're all lit up. There are certainly about 25 there and it seems to be tankers and dredgers.”

Mrs Doy said that she has heard different suggestions as to what the boats are doing offshore. “A lot of them anchor out there apparently because it's cheaper than going in to port.

“I've heard that they come to discharge fumes or waste and that some are waiting to be refuelled, or filling up smaller ships with cargo.”

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that most of the vessels are about 10 or 12 miles offshore.

She said: “We don't know exactly what they are doing because they are perfectly entitled to anchor there. We believe they're waiting for instructions. We are monitoring the number of vessels there but we don't have any powers to move them on.”

The tankers off Southwold are thought to come from as far afield as Hong Kong, Greece, Libya and Panama.

In June, a tanker which was moored too close to the shore sparked a number of major gas alert in Lowestoft and Southwold when it vented its tanks of methyl mercaptan - the smelly gas which is added to household gas to make it smell the way it does.

The vessel was told that it needed to be at least three miles offshore before clearing its tanks.


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