Ferguson Marine ferries fiasco: Glen Rosa further delayed to 2025
The second of the hugely-delayed CalMac ferries being built by Ferguson Marine is not now due to be completed until May 2025 and might not even be finished until December that year, the yard has revealed.
Glen Rosa was originally due to have been ready in mid-2018 and latterly by the end of 2024, meaning the ship will now be finished seven years late.
Chief executive David Tydeman’s latest quarterly progress update to MSPs also stated sister vessel Glen Sannox was still on course to be finished by March 2024 and both vessels could be further delayed if the latter’s sea trials “prove difficult”.
He said the “costs of any extension of timelines of worst case 0-6 months with Glen Sannox and 0-7 months with Glen Rosa to deal with contingency issues” – which could mean Glen Sannox not being finished until September 2024 and Glen Rosa until December 2025.
The ferries will also need some two months of trials by CalMac before entering passenger service, meaning Glen Sannox will not be operational until the end of May at the earliest.
The chief also admitted he had “significantly understated” the total forecast cost of completing Glen Sannox, with the two ferries now due to cost a total of around £340 million – more than three times the original £97m contract price.
Mr Tydeman now estimated it would cost £130m to finish Glen Sannox and £110m for Glen Rosa – formerly known as hull 802. Of that total of £240m, £185m has been spent.
However, Mr Tydeman warned the figures did not include warranty, and the contingency of £5m-£30m.
Both ferries are due to serve the main Arran route to Brodick, but from Troon, because major upgrading is still required at Ardrossan harbour to accommodate them.
Mr Tydeman said: “From the planning work and discussions with contractors, we have concluded we will need c15 months to complete the ship [Glen Rosa] after launch [in February 2024]. This moves completion of Glen Rosa to May 31, 2025.
"However, if trials prove difficult on Glen Sannox and we slip beyond March 31, 2024 for that ship, there will be a cascade onto Glen Rosa.”
Mr Tydeman said there were risks of issues arising during the trials planned between January and March.
He said: “It would be very unusual if there were not issues of equipment or systems failing or breaking or highlighting some specification changes needed, particularly with the first of class aspects of the liquefied natural gas system (for dual fuel propulsion with diesel).
"Our ability to guarantee completion by March 31, 2024 will thus depend on how well the trials progress. We remain very focused on getting the ship into service for next summer season.”
The yard boss also said he had underestimated the total cost of completing Glen Sannox because he had not included some £10m of work in May and June as finance staff had not reported them to him.
He said: “As a result, I significantly understated the total forecast cost to complete Glen Sannox, for which I apologise.”
The Scotsman understands the extra time the yard needs to complete Glen Rosa is based on better planning of the remaining work with its contractors. This follows a series of major problems coming to light which the yard blames on previous managements, which it said were adding huge increases to the workload.
Mr Tydeman said the vessels had suffered from wrong decisions by the yard under Jim McColl’s ownership up to 2019, which he listed as “unconventional build strategy, embedding significant design challenges, gaps and errors”.
He said wrong decisions had also been made after the yard was nationalised in 2019 – “changing the contractors for the overall ship-wide operating systems, tasking new designers with an impossible timeline and deliverables whilst the yard was closed for the pandemic, with a technical team trying to work remotely, further embedding many issues”.
The Ferguson Marine chief executive said these had collectively caused more than half the increased costs, with the remainder because the original £97m price had been “understated”, as well as inflation and overheads increasing.
Wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray said: "This confirmation of further cost and delay is again extremely disappointing. As a result of this update, officials are preparing to undertake due diligence drawing upon the value for money assessment completed earlier this year.
“I remain fully committed to both ensuring that these ferries are able to enter service as soon as possible and ensuring a long-term, sustainable future for the yard.”
Scottish Conservatives transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “The SNP’s shambolic handling of building these two new lifeline ferries means taxpayers’ money is continuing to be wasted on an astonishing scale.
“Successive SNP transport ministers have betrayed islanders time and time again. It is simply disgraceful that it has been confirmed that they will now have to wait even longer for one of these vessels to be delivered, with the 802 ferry now set to be seven years late.
“Every update from Ferguson Marine involves more costs for the taxpayers or a further slip on the endless delays island communities have had to suffer. The consequences of the ferry fiasco have been devastating for residents and the local economy in the areas affected.
“Serious questions must be asked as to why these costs were not included by David Tydeman when he updated the committee only three months ago. Since then, costs have spiralled by a further £10m, bringing the total cost for the two ferries to £368.5m and counting.
“Added to that, the yard faces a very uncertain future as we don’t know if the [Scottish] Government is prepared to invest any more money into it. We need an answer to that quickly.
“These ferries must be delivered without any further delay and with costs to the public purse kept to an absolute minimum. Then Humza Yousaf must stop ducking responsibility and agree to a full independent inquiry into this shameful waste of money."
Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: “Eighteen months ago when the finance secretary [Kate Forbes] announced that costs had risen, delays would happen and islanders would have to just suck it up, I asked whether this was the final round of excuses and whether she would resign if the project went even further off the rails.
"Today, we find out that costs have risen again, delays have risen again and islanders are still expected to just suck it up.
"These ferries were contracted by [Scottish] Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (Cmal), paid for by the Government, built originally by a company celebrated by the Government and when it collapsed it was owned by the Government. It's time for the Government to demonstrate some accountability."
Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “The latest update from Ferguson Marine exposes yet more failures of planning for this essential project and will be another blow to islanders who need this project to deliver for them.
“It is clear that lessons need to be learned from the management of this project and the blame for ever-increasing costs and delays lies squarely with the Scottish Government, Cmal and the history of management at Ferguson Marine for the complete failure to take charge.
“I recently met with the current management at Ferguson Marine and they were clear that there has been a lot of reworking to do, having inherited a mess from the previous management. That the project is now costing over three times the original contract price is utterly scandalous – how was it possible to get this so wrong?
“The people suffering in this situation are the island communities that rely on ferries as a lifeline service – and not just those using the Ardrossan-Brodick route, but those who are in the queue to have the ferries they rely on replaced. And [there is] the workers at Ferguson Marine who are unfairly embroiled in these scandals despite working hard to complete projects doomed to fail by poor management decisions.
“Scotland has a long tradition of shipbuilding, and everything must be done to secure a viable and vibrant future for shipbuilding lest we lose these vital skills to history.
"That begins by the SNP Government, Cmal and Ferguson Marine acting together, ensuring a more joined-up approach to delivering this project and ensuring appropriate government oversight is given rather than a blank cheque at the public’s expense.”
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