Ferguson Marine shipyard chief executive David Tydeman sacked amid further delays

Surprise move follows “performance concerns” as Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan describes further delay to Glen Sannox as “unacceptable”.

The chief executive of the shipyard building two hugely late and over budget CalMac ferries has been fired following “concerns regarding his performance”.

The unexpected development in the long-running Ferguson Marine ferries saga came as Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan said a further delay to one of the vessels was “unacceptable”.

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Ferguson Marine announced on Tuesday it had terminated chief executive David Tydeman’s contract.

David Tydeman beside Glen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine yard. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)David Tydeman beside Glen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine yard. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)
David Tydeman beside Glen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine yard. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)

Its spokesperson told The Scotsman: “The board made the decision to terminate David Tydeman’s contract following concerns regarding his performance.”

The move comes despite Mr Tydeman being seen as helping to turn around the Scottish Government-owned Port Glasgow yard since joining two years ago.

Major problems with the ferries contract have been largely attributed to its two previous managements, with Mr Tydeman repeatedly highlighting the yard was having to rectify their mistakes, such as sections built in the wrong order.

He said in September the vessels had suffered from wrong decisions by the yard under Jim McColl’s ownership up to 2019, which he listed as an “unconventional build strategy, embedding significant design challenges, gaps and errors”.

Glen Sannox returns after sea trials in the Clyde in February. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)Glen Sannox returns after sea trials in the Clyde in February. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)
Glen Sannox returns after sea trials in the Clyde in February. (Photo by John Devlin/The Scotsman)

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said it appeared Mr Tydeman had been sacked for "telling uncomfortable truths”.

In a significant mark of support for Mr Tydeman, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, the Scottish Government’s ferry buying firm, praised his work at Ferguson Marine.

Its spokesperson said: “Our focus remains firmly on the delivery of the two vessels under construction at the yard.

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"We’d like to thank David Tydeman for all of his hard work in very difficult circumstances.”

However, Ms McAllan said: “While the yard had previously stated that the delivery date for Glen Sannox was planned for late May, we are aware that, in the last week, the outgoing chief executive intimated further delay was likely.

"That is unacceptable. I know the board are intent on doing everything they can to ensure that delay does not happen.”

Glen Sannox, which successfully completed initial sea trials last month, is due to be completed by June – six years late and four times over budget.

Sister vessel Glen Rosa is due to be launched in two weeks’ time and be completed next year – which could be as late as September.

The pair should have cost £97 million but this has increased to around £400m. They are due to take over the main Arran route to Brodick – CalMac’s biggest – with Glen Sannox potentially in service in August following trials by the operator.

The latest delay to Glen Sannox is understood to relate to pipework and could potentially set the timeline back by a couple of months, although the yard is working to shorten this.

A Scottish Government source said patience had been running out behind the scenes over the continuing setbacks and delays.

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The recent appointment of Ms McAllan is also significant, with insiders insisting she is "very delivery-focused".

The yard has called for more Scottish Government funding for upgrading to help it compete for further work.

Ferguson Marine’s main union, the GMB, “thanked Mr Tydeman his efforts”.

It has called for the next CalMac contract, for a series of smaller ferries, to be awarded directly to the yard because it had successfully built a similar previous fleet.

Ms McAllan said: “The termination of the chief executive’s contract is a matter for the board, who are appointed by ministers to provide strategic direction at Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow (FMPG).

“I am focused on the Scottish Government’s priorities of completing the two ferries, ensuring FMPG drives down on costs and securing a sustainable future for the yard and its skilled workforce.

"I will be stressing to the new interim chief executive and the board the importance of the ferries entering service to our island communities as soon as possible.”

Mr Tydeman will be replaced as interim chief executive by John Petticrew, who has been on the Ferguson Marine board since 2022 and is understood to be based in Canada.

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Yard chair Andrew Miller said: “Ferguson Marine needs strong leadership to ensure its long-term future. The board recognised that action needed to be taken to restructure the current leadership team and it has taken these steps to address this.

“Our focus is on the completion of Glen Sannox and hull 802 [Glen Rosa], and the implementation of a robust business plan to improve the commercial viability of Ferguson Marine.

"With this new senior management team in place and a full complement of board members, we have the breadth and depth of experience and capability to drive forward these plans.”

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “It’s shocking that Glen Sannox is facing yet another delay.

“Mairi McAllan describes that as ‘unacceptable’ and appears to have sacked David Tydeman because of it.

"She must now come to Parliament to explain the extent of the latest delays and the cost implications for the taxpayer.

“SNP ministers can’t pass the buck. It’s their responsibility for these two vessels being six years late and hugely over budget.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “The skilled and dedicated workers at this yard have been badly failed by successive leaderships and by this incompetent SNP Government – the new board must do right by them and secure a thriving future for the yard.

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“Workers, islanders and taxpayers have all been failed throughout this fiasco – it is essential that this new leadership gets things back on track and delivers these lifeline ferries with no more delays and overruns.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: “It looks like David Tydeman was sacked by the SNP for telling uncomfortable truths.

"We know that he was being upfront about further costs and delays, but it seems the Scottish Government didn’t like that and decided to shoot the messenger. Is he a scapegoat for SNP failures?”



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