Minister blames 'contractor failure' for botched Ferguson ferries order

Glen Sannox is in dry dock in Greenock for additional work. Picture: John Devlin.Glen Sannox is in dry dock in Greenock for additional work. Picture: John Devlin.
Glen Sannox is in dry dock in Greenock for additional work. Picture: John Devlin.
Islands minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs today shipbuilders Ferguson Marine was responsible for the major delays and cost overruns that have plagued two CalMac ferries.

He said “contractor failure” had led to the fiasco which will see the vessels completed at least four years late and cost twice as much as expected.

Mr Wheelhouse told the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee: "An independent review of the process has concluded contractor failure has been the cause.”

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Ferguson was taken over by ministers last year after it went into administration.

Mr Wheelhouse said the Scottish Government did what it could to ensure the project was finished on time as the relationship between Ferguson Marine and Scottish Government-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (Cmal), which ordered the ferries for CalMac, broke down.

He said: "Every reasonable step was taken to try and resolve the situation, to encourage the parties to work together, to try and get the project back on track."

However, the minister admitted relations between the yard and Cmal became “very strained”.

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Delayed Ferguson Marine ferries may not be completed until 2023

Glen Sannox and its unnamed sister vessel are being built at Ferguson’s yard in Port Glasgow but will not now be completed until 2022-23 rather than 2018.

The Scottish Government announced yesterday the original £97 million cost of the ferries could now reach £213m.

It said: “The total cost of building the ferries remains at £110.3m to £114.3m.

"Due to payments still being due under the original contract, the additional costs are estimated between £94.8m and £98.8 million.”

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Glen Sannox is being built for the main Arran route between Ardrossan and Brodick.

The second vessel has been ordered for the Skye-North Uist crossing.

However, as with several of CalMac’s other ferries, they are due to be capable of being switched to cover other routes if necessary.

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