Alex Salmond hails future of Ferguson shipyard

A SHIPYARD which was rescued from closure is pointing the way to Scotland’s industrial future, the First Minister has said.

Alex Samond speaking at Ferguson's shipyard in August. Picture: John Devlin

The Ferguson yard in Port Glasgow went into administration in August but was taken over by Clyde Blowers Capital last month.

Now operating under the name Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL) it has already won the £12.3 million contract for the construction of a new hybrid ferry for the CalMac fleet.

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The Scottish Government investment, being taken forward by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), will secure jobs for about 80 people at the shipyard.

Alex Salmond said he believes FMEL is going to be one of the country’s great success stories, as he visited the yard on the River Clyde today.

He said: “This idea that shipbuilding is a dying industry, something of the industrial past, that’s only if you don’t modernise and you don’t go into the marketplace.

“There’s a huge market for the top quality design, not just in Scotland, not just for our own routes in CalMac, but across Europe. Europe is crying out for modern ferries that are fuel efficient, environmentally compatible, that can run economically, and the engineering expertise, the innovation that’s required. Why shouldn’t we do it?

“We’ve got the tradition, we’ve got the workers, we’ve got the skills, and now we’ve got a management who are determined to see this yard succeed, so I think Ferguson Marine Engineering is going to be one of Scotland’s great success stories, not celebrating Scotland’s industrial past but pointing the way to part of our industrial future.”

He added: “What you need to compete is the know-how, the capital and the skills. We’ve got the skills, there was never any doubt about that in Fergusons, the know-how in terms of the innovation, we’ve got that as well, and now in Clyde Blowers Capital we’ve got a company with the financial wherewithal to make the investment.

“If you put these three things together then I think Scotland and the Clyde are unstoppable in shipbuilding.”

The Port Glasgow shipyard, which dates back to 1902, went into administration after experiencing ‘’significant cash-flow pressure’’ with the immediate loss of 70 posts.

But after being acquired by Clyde Blowers Capital, founded by businessman Jim McColl, a number of those who were made redundant have now been rehired.

The new ferry will feature a low carbon hybrid system that combines traditional diesel power with an electric battery, helping to reduce its fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

It should be launched in spring 2016 before going into service in the autumn of that year, with the vessel being built to carry 150 passengers and 23 cars or two HGVs.