Hugely delayed ferry Glen Sannox will need eight weeks of trials after completion by Ferguson Marine – CalMac

The massively delayed CalMac ferry Glen Sannox will need nearly two months of further tests before entering passenger service in addition to the "extensive” sea trials prior its completion by Ferguson Marine which John Swinney related to MSPs last week.

The operator has confirmed to The Scotsman the duration of the additional “familiarisation and network trials” required before the vessel is able to operate.

That is likely to increase the pressure to have it ready for next year’s summer season after the Deputy First Minister announced a further delivery delay at the Scottish Government-owned shipyard from May to this autumn, if not the end of the year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Glen Sannox’s sister vessel, the as-yet unnamed hull 802, will also be delayed, from March 2024 to “late summer”, if not the end of the year. Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland expects the project to cost at least £293 million – three times the original contract.

Glen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow in October. Picture: John DevlinGlen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow in October. Picture: John Devlin
Glen Sannox at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow in October. Picture: John Devlin

The Port Glasgow yard’s chief executive David Tydeman blamed “design gaps and build errors” by its previous management for the latest delays, which will see Glen Sannox finished five-and-a-half years late.

Asked whether Glen Sannox would go straight into service once delivered by the yard, Mr Swinney said last Thursday that “extensive sea trials of the vessel will be under way as part of the preparation for the handover”.

However, a CalMac spokesperson said: “Once the vessel is delivered to CalMac, there is an eight-week period for us to conduct familiarisation and network trials. As such, if the vessel is delivered this autumn, the vessel should be in service for summer 2024.

“Sea trials are completed by the shipyard before vessel delivery. We will conduct familiarisation and network trials after delivery before the vessel is introduced into service."

CalMac, which is also state owned, said if the ferry was not delivered until the end of the year, “the earliest introduction into service would be March 1 2024”.

That is likely to be just weeks before the start of the summer season, which normally begins before Easter, which will be on March 31 next year.

The Scottish Conservatives described the situation as a “shambles”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “Even if the Glen Sannox is ready by the end of the year, it won't be ready for use by islanders as it will have to undergo sea trials.

“There is no guarantee that it would be ready for next summer's season. The whole thing is a shambles.

"John Swinney also could not tell us if there's a spending limit beyond which the government won't go, so the cost could spiral even more. This is why we need an independent inquiry into this scandal.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: “This is yet more disappointing news for the thousands of islanders who are eagerly waiting for the completion of the Glen Sannox.

“It looks increasing likely that this vessel will not be operational more than six years after Nicola Sturgeon launched it with painted-on windows [in November 2017].

“Coming so soon after John Swinney announced yet another delay, this is another blow.

“This scandal has been manufactured by countless SNP ministers including [Finance Secretary] Kate Forbes and [former transport minister] Humza Yousaf who have put politics before the interests of islanders and the workforce at every turn.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain, who asked Mr Swinney whether Glen Sannox would go straight into service after being delivered, said: “Last week’s bad news about the ferries has just got worse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It seemed odd to me that the Deputy First Minister was unable to answer my question last week. Now we know why.

“It appears that John Swinney couldn’t bring himself to mention that once the ferries are handed over to CalMac, there will be another two-month wait for the vessels to come into service.

“Why was this crucial detail omitted from John Swinney’s statement? It’s standard procedure for a crew to undertake a familiarization process with a vessel before it is fully operational.

“Islanders will be deeply unimpressed that this Government is still unable to be straight with them, even after six years of long delays and budget over-runs into the hundreds of millions.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.