Ferguson Shipbuilders secures £12m ferry contract

THE Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow has won its first ferry building contract since being rescued from closure earlier this month.

The Ferguson shipyard went into administration in August. Picture: John Devlin

The company was bought earlier this month by Clyde Blowers Capital, owned by billionaire Jim McColl, when it went into administration in August after experiencing “significant cash-flow pressure”.

It announced yesterday it had won a £12.3 million contract from the Scottish Government to build a third hybrid ferry for Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the partner company of CalMac Ferries.

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It will accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars or two HGVs, with a service speed of nine knots. The hybrid system will combine a traditional diesel engine with electric battery power to lower carbon emissions.

The yard has previously built two other hybrid ferries – the MV Hallaig and MV Lochinvar – for CalMac.

The contract will secure jobs for 80 people in the Port Glasgow and Inverclyde area with the renamed Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL).

The new vessel is expected to be launched in spring 2016, before entering service in autumn of 2016.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the new contract was a “real vote of confidence in shipbuilding on the Clyde and a significant step forward for Ferguson Marine Engineering”.

She said: “This investment not only provides support to the shipbuilding industry on the Clyde but also underlines our commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology to make our ferries sustainable and reliable.

“I had the privilege to launch the first of these ferries, the MV Hallaig, and look forward to seeing this latest vessel.”

Mr McColl said: “This is the first major order for Ferguson Marine Engineering and is fantastic news for the business, its workforce and for Port Glasgow. It is the third vessel to be built in a four vessel programme.

“By creating jobs for the former Ferguson’s workers and securing the site at Port Glasgow, we have ensured that the experience in the workforce which built the last two hybrid ferries will be used to build this vessel.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “This contract also shows the rest of the world that FMEL is open and ready for business, with their expertise in low carbon marine technologies making them a competitive and attractive option when it comes to attracting new business.

“Clyde Blowers Capital have an ambitious and exciting plan for FMEL and I hope this is the first of many new contracts for the yard as it grows into a real success on the banks of the Clyde.”

The contract comes less than two weeks after Mr McColl stepped in to save the ailing shipyard, announcing an £8m investment programme to upgrade facilities at the Port Glasgow site with a view to taking on oil and gas and renewable energy fabrication contracts. He also said the workforce would be expanded, potentially reaching 300 in the long term.

Welcoming the announcement, Tom Docherty, chief executive of CMAL, said: “Over the next few years we have an ambitious programme of fleet renewal and we are committed to leading the way in innovative ferry design and building for the future. We look forward to engaging with the new management for future tender opportunities as their facilities expand and improve.”

Mr McColl last week also unveiled plans for Newlands Junior College in Glasgow’s South Side. Opening later this year, the ground-breaking vocational school aims to give career opportunities to young people who are not academic but have potential to be good employees.