EMPLOYMENT minister Mark Hoban has been back to visit a factory he first opened four years ago.
The minister, who is also MP for Fareham, went back to the Saab Seaeye factory in Segensworth.
It makes ROVs – Remotely Operated Vehicles – which work underwater to fix pipelines and perform other tasks.
Mr Hoban saw ROVs that can descend nearly four miles deep under the ocean, along with vehicles which have grippers powerful enough to wrench open an oil valve on a deep sea rig, yet a touch delicate enough to gently lift a Roman pot from the seabed.
He also saw ROVs that can swim down tunnels and those which have been used in movies such as Free Willy.
Saab Seaeye exports around 80 per cent of its vehicles, which the firm tests in Portchester at Trafalgar Wharf.
The firm’s sales have reached more than £25m, and it has expanded its workforce by a quarter since the factory opened.
Mr Hoban said: ‘The company continues to go from strength to strength and is an excellent example of another world-leading Fareham business using cutting-edge technology and the skills of local people.’
The visit was a chance to meet Saab Seaeye’s newly-appointed managing director, Jon Robertson – previously their engineering director –along with sales director, Matt Bates and operations director Mark Exeter.
Mr Robertson said the company keeps its position as world leader in an internationally competitive market by constantly innovating and using new technology to meet the demands of its customers.
For example, the firm is combining military underwater vehicle technology with commercial ROV systems to create a new concept in underwater vehicle design.
Before leaving the factory, Mark Hoban had a chance to see the latest ROV to come off the production line. It is destined for the Singapore offshore oil and gas industry.