THE return of Europe’s biggest on-water commercial marine exhibition to Southampton next week will generate millions of pounds for the city.

Seawork takes place at Mayflower Park from June 21-23 and offers an exhibition, open air demonstrations and floating displays.

Its organisers say it is the first post-Brexit, post-pandemic opportunity for business networking in the commercial marine sector.

Andrew Webster, managing director of organiser Mercator Media, said the event would be a big boost for the city, which has 4,000 hotel beds within a five-mile radius of the venue.

“Our professional visitors are all on expenses and entertaining clients. It’s going to be a great boost to Southampton, somewhere between £7million-£9m,” he said.

“Twenty-five per cent of Seawork exhibitors have a Solent address. That’s tens of millions of pounds of orders as part of the supply chain."

The event takes place alongside another exhibition, Marine Civils, and is preceded by a specialist event on high-speed operations, Speed@Seawork, which takes place in Cowes on Monday, June 20.

The event is the 23rd Seawork, after two missed years because of the pandemic.

Mr Webster said: “The first Seawork was over 25 years ago and commercial marine – whether it’s pilot boats or doing the 'rubbish run' in Southampton Water or maintaining the commercial links with Isle of Wight – have all been going on pretty much regardless of Covid restrictions.

“This is really the first chance in over three years for people to get back together and network. It’s great to be able to talk on the phone or send an email but being able to shake hands and look people in the eye, this is the first opportunity to be able to do that.”

He said there had been significant investment in the sector, particularly driven by decarbonisation.

The event includes a pontoon showcasing innovative new vessels focused on efficiency and reducing costs, as well as a range of equipment and services.

Among other highlights, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency will give an update on the new Workboat Code, while the Ministry of Defence and the Department of International Trade will take their existing and potential suppliers through the process for their domestic procurement programme and international business.