Seawork - a full three days of equipment and vessel launches, demonstrations, announcements and conferences. Business, business, business all the way.
Boosted by glorious sunshine, Seawork 2023 saw visitor and delegate numbers surge back to pre-pandemic levels with just over 7200 international maritime professionals making the trip to Mayflower Park in Southampton, UK. Seawork is Europe’s largest on-water commercial marine and workboat exhibition.
Minister buoyant about growth
Nusrat Ghani, Minister of State at the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade, was buoyant about the growth of the marine industry when she officially opened the 24th edition of Seawork with a keynote speech.
Ms Ghani explained, “The British maritime industry is one of the most innovative, with a pace of development and willingness to embrace new technologies that very few can match. The shipping technology sector is already a £4 billion industry and estimated to more than triple in value by the end of the decade.”
This is the third time the minister has attended Seawork and commented, “We are so proud of our seafaring heritage and its future, as we develop new technologies and innovation to go greener and cleaner. …I’m looking forward to talking to businesses about boosting investment and unlocking opportunities to export the UK’s innovative technologies, services and designs around the world.”
The Minister took a full tour of Seawork and Marine Civils and presented the keys of a new pilot vessel to owners ABP, UK’s largest port operator.
High-speed specialist capabilities
Speed@Seawork, held the day before Seawork, saw international defence and specialist sector delegates at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, IOW, taking part in high-speed vessel sea trials demonstrating specialist capabilities out on the waters of the Solent. Fifteen countries were represented by their defence attachés.
Sam Sears outlined the role of the National Shipbuilding Office (NSO) in the UK Government interests in shipbuilding, supporting growth in the sector, and working with industry to improve productivity and competitiveness. He touched on ZEVI, the Zero Emission Vessel and Infrastructure (ZEVI) programme as well as the need for a skills agenda in shipbuilding in the UK.
Phil Gittens, Boats Team Leader at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) gave an update on the UK Ministry of Defence Small Boats Programme, and John Haynes, MD of Hybrid Marine Power took the audience through the reality of implementing Net Zero in this specialist sector in his presentation ‘Energy transition - gathering pace for high-speed craft’.
Vessels were demonstrated by PB Europe, Zodiac Milpro, Simrad/Ambex, Berthon and Proteum.
Vessels and demos
Highlights of the packed schedule saw:
- The Netherlands’ Damen Shipyards preview the new electric Multi Cat 1908e, a multi-tasking zero-emission vessel that is able to operate for 12 hours on a single charge.
- The Goodchild ORC131 pilot vessel was handed over to her new owner ABP, the UK’s largest port operator.
- Diverse Marine was proud to show the new Caister lifeboat, on her way to the original independent lifeboat service.
- Denmark’s Dacoma presented a new design Airkeel, a novel vessel stabiliser for work and crewboats.
- The HST Frances crew transfer vessel (CTV) demonstrated her proven hybrid-power capabilities.
Major news came with the announcement of a collaboration between power solution provider Volvo Penta, manufacturer Manor Marine and vessel design pioneer Chartwell Marine in a new partnership to service the booming offshore wind farm industry.
The UK Royal Navy’s new testbed ship ‘XV Patrick Blackett’ made a guest appearance on the first day of Seawork; the 42m vessel is used by the navy’s experimentation and innovation experts Navy X.
Seawork – the meeting place
Many companies and associations took advantage of the three-day exhibition to hold, members’ meetings or networking forums, including: International Jack-up Barge Operators Association – AGM; The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST); Siemens Financial Services; Yacht Brokers, Designers & Surveyors Association (YBDSA); Workboat Association; British Tug Owners Association, Women In Marine Industry (WIMI) and British Marine.
Conferences and Business Briefings
The final session in Series 3 of Get Set for Workboat 2050 took place at Seawork and focused on Port Infrastructure & Alternative Fuels - Onshore & Offshore fuelling systems – building the fuel mosaic for future bunkering and support infrastructure. Get Set for Workboat 2050 looked at practical applications of decarbonisation and provided examples of businesses and workboat operators who are employing technology, innovation, and design to reduce their carbon footprint.
Bitesize in-person sessions were the format for the all-new 2023 Seawork Conferences delivered to help commercial marine and workboat operators face the challenge of reducing operational expenditure at the same time as meeting the mandatory targets to decarbonise operations. Owners and operators learned how their businesses can create cost savings whilst benefitting from the latest developments in alternative fuels, hybrid propulsion, technology, and design.
The International Jack-up Barge Operators Association (IJBOA) held their Annual General Meeting at Seawork.
Business Briefing Sessions for 2023 included:
- International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) - Unlocking sustainable contracting in offshore wind
- Danfoss - Powering the Future, Today: Exploring Hybrid and Fully-Electric Vessel System Architecture and Power Converters
- UK Government Opportunities & Support for the UK workboat & RHIB Sector including speakers from The National Shipbuilding Office, Dept of Business & Trade, MoD DE&S Boat Team, and Crown Commercial Services.
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency - Update on MCA Codes of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels
- Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) - Understanding the power of Tidal Projects for Marine Civils
- The Workboat Association Safety Forum
Next year will see the landmark 25th anniversary edition of Seawork which takes place 11-13 June with Speed@Seawork Monday 10 June 2024.