French police were today patrolling two beaches after MailOnline revealed they were being used by people smugglers to launch super-sized boats carrying migrants to Britain.
Officers including one carrying a rubber bullet launcher walked along the sand before dawn and as the sun came up to stop any more migrant boats taking to the sea.
Coastguard vessels with searchlights probing the water in the darkness were also seen offshore in a show of strength by the French authorities, albeit 24 hours too late to stop the mass crossing yesterday.
There were no police around when MailOnline journalists witnessed two 50ft long boats, setting off on Tuesday morning from the beaches near Wimereux, around 20 mile south of Calais.
The cumbersome black inflatable boats which each carried around 40 migrants including some children are believed to have been the largest vessels used to carry migrants across the English channel since the current crisis started.
Officers including one carrying a rubber bullet launcher walked along the sand before dawn and as the sun came up to stop any more migrant boats taking to the sea
Police Spotted at Dunes De La Slack near Wimereux today after MailOnline revealed the beach was being used by people smugglers to launch super-sized boats carrying migrants to Britain
There were no police around when MailOnline journalists witnessed two 50ft long boats, setting off on Tuesday morning from the beaches near Wimereux, around 20 mile south of Calais
Officers walked along the sand before dawn this morning, a day after the beach was used by migrants
It is believed that their recent use by people smugglers trying to maximise their profits partly explains the surging numbers of migrants reaching the UK.
Boat building experts told MailOnline that the vessels, each powered by an outboard engine, appeared to have been made to order for the purpose of people smuggling to carry as many passengers as possible.
Laurence Lock, the managing director of XS Ribs which is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of inflatable boats, said: ‘These boats look like they have been made specifically for people smuggling.
‘There is nothing of that size available from legitimate manufacturers, and these boats clearly have no other commercial purpose.
‘They are not very stable and really little more than giant flimsy beach toys. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on one in the middle of the Channel
‘Similar big inflatables have been used before to take migrants across the Mediterranean, so I guess it is no surprise that they have turned up here.
‘People smugglers want to maximise their profits, so it makes sense for them to use boats which can carry lots of paying passengers. The buoyancy tubes give them phenomenal carrying capacity at relatively low cost.
‘There is clearly a market for vessels capable of moving large numbers of people in comparatively sheltered waters.
‘They can be folded up in the back of a van and then inflated just before launch, so the smugglers do not draw attention to themselves by towing boats to a beach.
‘I don’t know where they are being made, but it is probably somewhere in China. They could even be made in somewhere like Belarussia and put into the system to try and destabilise Europe.
‘There is a skill involved in making them. They cannot just be knocked up in a garden shed. But they are only designed to be used once.’
It is believed that their recent use by people smugglers trying to maximise their profits partly explains the surging numbers of migrants reaching the UK. Pictured: Police patrol the beaches today
Boat debris on Dunes De La Slack near Wimereux today after migrants were spotted heading into the English Channel
The boats set sail after a MailOnline reporter witnessed lifejackets being openly handed out on Monday afternoon at the makeshift migrant camp in Grand Synthe near Dunkirk which was closed down by hundreds of French police yesterday. Pictured: Migrants at the camp on Monday
Pictured: belongings left by side of road near to where migrants were spotted on a boat heading into the English Channel
Stewart Caruthers, the cruising manager of the Royal Yachting Association which has 104,000 boating enthusiast members in the UK, said: ‘These are huge craft and I don’t know what their origin is.
‘They are just inflatable boats designed to carry as many people as possible. I don’t think they are manufactured anywhere in Europe. They have come from outside and made somewhere in the world where they are not too worried about standards.’
The two giant inflatables were spotted on Tuesday as they left the neighbouring beaches at La Pointe Aux Oies and Fort d’Ambleteuse around two miles north of Wimereux.
The deflated carcass of a similar supersize inflatable was today still visible on rocks separating the two beaches where it had been washed up, possibly after an earlier voyage ended in disaster.
Large rips could be seen in the fabric and the different sections of it appeared to be joined together with flimsy adhesive instead of proper welded seams.
Around 100 yards away, the wreckage of another smaller inflatable was left on the beach with three discarded outboard engines, a pile of water-logged jackets and an abandoned sleeping bag.
The migrants who set sail on Tuesday morning in the giant boats are thought to have spent Monday night hiding in sand dunes overlooking the beaches.
They were seen manhandling the inflatables down clifftops as early morning French dog walkers and a jogger watched in amazement.
People smuggling minders were spotted wading knee deep in the sea as the migrants clambered aboard for their perilous voyage
There where cheers and whoops from one boat as they started their Yamaha outboard engine and headed out into the surf, intent on a new life in the UK.
Most of the two groups were seen wearing bright orange life jackets although a few did not have any buoyancy aids.
The incredible scenes unfolded without a single police officer being seen anywhere in the area, despite the French authorities having pledged to crack down on migrant boats.
Migrants wearing life jackets waiting for the departure from a near-deserted beach near Calais at dawn on Tuesday morning
A loaded boat – with people smugglers pushing it from behind – heading into a choppy Channel towards Britain on Tuesday morning
French riot cops moved in to dismantle the tent encampment this morning. It has been home to some 1,500 migrants hoping the reach Britain
Around 1,500 migrants, most of whom were hoping to make the journey to the UK, have now been taken away to asylum centres so their claims can be assessed
The boats set sail after a MailOnline reporter witnessed lifejackets being openly handed out on Monday afternoon at the makeshift migrant camp in Grand Synthe near Dunkirk which was closed down by hundreds of French police yesterday.
Groups of men were seen arriving with bags crammed full of the brand new bright orange lifejackets as charities gave out free food and medication on Monday afternoon.
Later several groups of migrants were seen waiting at a nearby bus stop opposite an Auchan superstore, carrying their lifejackets in bags.
A migrant from one group who said he was an Iraqi Kurd told MailOnline: ‘We are all Arabs. Some of us are from Syria. We just want to get to the UK.
Shrugging his shoulders, he added: ‘Of course we are going to cross the sea, but we don’t know when it is going to happen.
‘We have been given our jackets and we are waiting for instructions. We don’t know if it will be tonight?”.
The migrant said he had arrived in Grand Synthe after being smuggled in lorries from Turkey, but he refused to say how much he had paid people smugglers.
He added: ‘The conditions in the camp here are filthy. We have only been here five days and I cannot wait to leave.’
Police operation in the Jungle of Grande-Synthe in March, when the camp numbered in the hundreds and not the thousands
Members of the group were seen intently looking at their mobile phones while apparently waiting to be told where to go as they waited for one of the Dunkirk area’s free local buses.
Scores of migrants were seen arriving on Monday evening in Wimereux around 40 miles south of Grand Synthe, and walking through the town centre towards the beach.
Some had huge backpacks stuffed with their meagre possessions, and apparently hiding their lifejackets.
It is believed that they headed off on clifftop path to the beaches just north of the town where they were able to wait on the sand dunes, hidden by bushes and vegetation.
A MailOnline reporter heard the excited chatter of a migrant group on the beach in the as one boat apparently set off in the darkness.
Around 15 minutes later a group of three or four men were seen heading back up the beach towards the dunes, suggesting that they had successfully launched the boat.
The two big boats were then launched in daylight after lookouts decided that the coast was clear and no police were around.