MARINE firms and maritime enthusiasts from across the globe descended on Southampton’s docks for the first day of a major exhibition and conference.

Thousands of people flocked to Seawork 2014 to see 600 exhibitors from across the Solent, UK and the world, as well as more than 60 vessels.

The annual showpiece first took place in 1994 with 84 exhibitors and attracted 1,300 visitors.

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But it has now grown to such a size that it takes over 18,000sqm of exhibition space in the Port of Southampton, with 7,500 people expected to attend this year’s three-day event.

Dozens of exhibitors from Hampshire set up stall to show off their wares, while there were also firms from as far as t h e Netherlands, Scandinavia, the USA and Australia.

J a s o n M u r r e l l , marine account manager at Southamptonbased Hendy Power, said: “This is the bread and butter show in the UK market. If you can’t come, people think there is a problem with your products.

“It’s a good opportunity to build a rapport, negotiate deals and build networks, as it’s purely a commercial event. It’s a brilliant show.”

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And Noel Gould, managing director of Gloucestershirebased Durowipers, said: “It’s the biggest sea work exhibition in Britain, and it’s the best. We get new customers and see designs from all over the world. It’s fantastic.”

Some firms used the event to launch new products, with Gosport-based Crewsaver debuting new lifejackets for wind farms and offshore use and immersion suits, while BAE Systems unveiled its new rigid inflatable fast rescue craft that is set to be used by the Royal Navy.

A flotilla of vessels was moored on 250m of pontoons outside the Mayflower Cruise Terminal, allowing the crowds to take a closer look at craft including catamarans, motor cruisers and tugs.

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There were also a series of product demonstrations, while talks took place on a wide range of subjects related to the maritime industry.

Seawork 2014 will continue today from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and tomorrow from 9.30am to 5pm. For more information or to see a full list of exhibitors, go to