Ferries Scotland scandal: Further delays as potential cost hits almost £400m for Ferguson Marine ferries

Inverclyde yard Ferguson Marine has set out revised targets to MSPs – and the update has confirmed more likely delays and extra costs

The second of the significantly delayed CalMac ferries being built by Ferguson Marine is now not expected to be completed until September next year, as it was revealed the costs of both projects could hit almost £400 million.

The troubled Glen Rosa build was originally due to have been completed in mid-2018, and latterly by the end of 2024. But after the Inverclyde yard pushed back its completion date to May 2025 last summer, it has now been extended by a further four months, representing a further blow for islanders on Arran, where the ferry is scheduled to operate.

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In a progress update to MSPs, David Tydeman, the yard’s chief executive, said Glen Rosa’s sister vessel, Glen Sannox, was still expected to be completed by the end of May, although he noted that “final inspections and trials may require some time”, giving rise to further delays. However, he said any such slip would be “hopefully weeks and not longer”.

In his letter, addressed to Edward Mountain, convenor of Holyrood’s net zero, energy, and transport committee, Mr Tydeman said the forecast cost for Glen Sannox had risen from the £130 million figure it was working towards last year. He said the yard aims to close the project within a cost of between £145.5m and £149.1m.

The cost for Glen Rosa, previously known as Hull 802, has also escalated. Mr Tydeman explained “the forecast cost to complete is now set at a ‘not to exceed’ maximum of £150m. Last September, the target cost was £110m. It means the overall cost for the two vessels now stands at close to £400m. The two ships were meant to have been delivered by the Port Glasgow yard for a total cost of £97m.

Economy secretary Mairi McAllan said the latest cost increases and delivery delays were “extremely disappointing”. She said: “The former Cabinet secretary, Neil Gray, had impressed upon the CEO that further delays and cost increases would be inexcusable and profoundly frustrating, and I fully support that sentiment.”

Many of the problems have been attributed to past management failings at the yard, which was taken over by the Scottish Government five years ago to prevent its collapse. However, the latest delays have stemmed from the vessels’ novel dual-fuel propulsion system, which uses diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Glen Sannox returns to Ferguson Marine after sea trials earlier this month. Picture: John DevlinGlen Sannox returns to Ferguson Marine after sea trials earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin
Glen Sannox returns to Ferguson Marine after sea trials earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Tydeman said “due to some cascade impacts” from the firm’s work on Glen Sannox, Glen Rosa’s target delivery has moved to “no later than September ‘25”. He added: “We have already proved we can do many things better on 802 than on Glen Sannox and we aim to complete 802 at a stretch target below £140m and up to three months earlier than the September ‘25 deadline.”

Earlier this month, Glen Sannox’s first sea trials, which saw the vessel move under its own power for the first time, were hailed by Ferguson Marine as “overwhelmingly positive”.

In his latest update, Mr Tydeman described those trials as “reassuringly positive”, and said further trials were scheduled to take place in April. “Through this we expect to increase the confidence already building in the ship and her future with the fleet,” he said.

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Senior management from Ferguson Marine are due to appear before MSPs on Tuesday.

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said: “The SNP’s shambolic handling of the building of these two lifeline ferries continues to betray islanders at every turn and blow taxpayers money on an astronomical scale.

“Islanders must dread these updates from Ferguson Marine given they always deliver the worst possible news. It should be a source of shame for SNP ministers that costs have increased again and one of these ferries might not be delivered for another 18 months.

“The consequences of the SNP’s ferry fiasco have been devastating for residents and the economy of our islands.

“To add insult to injury, the ageing ferry serving Arran right now is out of action for another four months.

“Ferguson Marine’s Chief Executive – David Tydeman – has serious questions to answer over this latest setback when he appears before the transport committee tomorrow.”



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