Port of Ipswich: Marine minds set course for year ahead at port gathering

Delegates from the ABP Marine Conference at ABP, Old Custom House, Port of Ipswich.

Delegates from the ABP Marine Conference at ABP, Old Custom House, Port of Ipswich. - Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller

Some of best marine minds in the country were in Ipswich this week as harbour masters, dock masters and marine managers gathered for an annual conference.

Associated British Ports’ (ABP) two-day annual Marine Conference was held at the Port of Ipswich on Wednesday and yesterday for the first time since 2003.

The event, at the Old Custom House on Ipswich waterfront, brought together professionals from as far afield as Troon in Scotland to Teignmouth in Devon, representing all 21 of ABP’s ports across the UK - a good proportion of all UK marine heads, as ABP represents around a quarter of the entire British port community. They were joined by ABP chief executive James Cooper and several board members.

The focus of this year’s meeting was to investigate current development in the industry, share experience and set the course for the year ahead.

ABP director of short sea ports Andrew Harston said they were “delighted” to hold the event at the historic Port of Ipswich.

“ABP’s marine teams have more than 10,000 years’ collective experience. They play a vital role in ensuring the safety of navigation: 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.

ABP’s ports of East Anglia, King’s Lynn, Lowestoft and Ipswich contribute £340million to the UK economy every year and support 3,577 jobs in the region.

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Captain Phil Cowing, head of marine for the Humber and main adviser to the ABP board, said delegates had gained a very favourable impression of the Port of Ipswich and its community spirit and sense of vibrancy along the waterfront.

“It was very positive and this year we had a number of extra people, some of our board members attending as well for the first day of the conference to give them a more full understanding of what exactly we do,” he said.

“It’s a coming together of all our top main professionals within the country.”

Guests heard about a number of major projects being planned, including a new £5m main control centre about to be approved for the Humber, and a centre for offshore wind turbines called Green Port Hull.

Delegates visited the redeveloped Wet Dock and Ipswich Waterfront, and went for a sail on the Thames sailing barge Victor.