Ministers to shell out £180k to improve Ferguson Marine shipyard's 'productivity and competitiveness'

Scottish ministers will spend around £180,000 to help improve the ailing Ferguson Marine shipyard’s productivity and competitiveness.

This could see significant investment in the yard in advance of Ferguson Marine winning any further contracts or starting construction on ships.

The shipyard has come under intense scrutiny in recent months due to the criticism around the delayed and over-budget vessels it is building for the Clyde and the Hebrides.

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Previous ownership and management of Ferguson Marine, which was nationalised in 2019, has been blamed by the Scottish Government for the problems with hulls 801 and 802.

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The construction of the two ships are running five years late and around £150 million over-budget, and have been at the centre of a political storm.

Ministers have been criticised for failing to explain why significant changes to the contract for the vessels were accepted, despite concerns of significant risks raised by ferry infrastructure public body CMAL.

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However, in an admission the Ferguson Marine shipyard struggles to compete internationally and is not as productive as it could be, ministers are set to spend up to £180,000 on expert advice to tackle the problem.

A contract, published on Monday on the Public Contracts Scotland portal, states ministers wish to commission a report “to identify potential ways to improve the competitiveness of the shipyard in support of its sustainable future”.

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Hulls 801 and 802 are running five years late and £150m over-budget.

This will include “clarification of the target productivity, target product mix, and planned shipbuilding strategy”, and the “identification of measures that, if executed, will improve efficiency and competitiveness in relation to comparator shipyards”.

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The report should also include an estimation of how much this would cost and how much more money would need to be invested in the yard to make it a reality.

Work on the report will begin on July 18 with a deadline of October 31, at a cost of £180,000 to taxpayers.

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The contract notice states: “Scottish Government is working with Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow … to understand what improvements and investment could benefit the shipyard to increase its productivity and competitiveness to support it in securing a sustainable future.

"This report will provide an independent assessment to support these considerations.

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"A window of opportunity has been identified in the yard’s current work programme when any improvements identified in this report could be undertaken at a time that minimises any impact on existing projects and is undertaken in advance of the next prospective vessels being built.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the report was part of the Government response to the critical Audit Scotland report into the construction of the ships.

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They said: “Significant progress has been made at Ferguson Marine and the yard is back to being a serious contender for future vessel contracts.

"As part of ongoing work to support the yard to secure these future opportunities, and in line with recommendations in the Audit Scotland report, the Scottish Government has commissioned this piece of work to evaluate what possible improvements can be made for the yard to be more efficient, competitive and to win contracts on merit.

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“Ultimately, decisions on what sort of vessel opportunities to pursue are for the Ferguson Marine management and board of directors to determine.”

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