Catherine Bearder visited Southampton along with Mike Thornton, MP for Eastleigh, to meet the organisers of two exciting maritime projects underway in the city.
Catherine first met Dr Clive Bennett from Southampton University, who is developing plans for a 'Living Waters Aquarium' in the city on council land by the city walls and the West Quay shopping centre.
Catherine has supported Dr Bennett's application for EU regional growth funding last year, though the project was refused on the grounds that match funding had not been sought.
Catherine commented: "This is a truly unique project and an exciting opportunity for Southampton.
"It will provide a space for people to learn about the area's maritime history and look to the future on the seas as well as a 3D cinema and a meeting and cultural space.
"I will be working with Dr Bennett and the Living Waters steering group to ensure the project progresses."
Catherine and Mike later visited Marine South East at the National Oceanography Centre to learn more about their plans to develop Automated Underwater Vehicles and to harvest tidal power.
Catherine commented "It is fascinating to learn about these ground-breaking projects taking place in our area.
"AUVs are the future and to be able to get a glimpse of them was wonderful.
"I wish the MSE team luck in this project and will help them obtain further EU funding in any way I can."
Mike Thornton MP added: "We have the UK's leading institute for integrated ocean research and technology right on our doorstep. The maritime economy represents about 23% of the coastal Hampshire economy, according to the Solent Water Front Strategy Study, and the gross value added of the maritime centre is significantly higher than many other industry sectors.
"The strength of the NOC just goes to show how much we can gain from investing in research and technology."