Demand for inquiry as cost of ferries built at Ferguson Marine shipyard doubles

The cost of building two ferries at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard has doubled to nearly £200m, and the vessels will be delivered more than three years late, it was revealed today.

Derek Mackay at the Ferguson Marine shipyard.
Derek Mackay at the Ferguson Marine shipyard.

Scottish Economy Secretary Derek Mackay told MSPs that progress had been made since the stricken shipyard had been taken into public ownership, but that the additional cost to complete two ferries for CalMac, is estimated to be between £94.8m and £96.8m - double the original costs.

He said the estimated delivery for the MV Glen Sannox, which will operate on the Ardrossan to Brodick route, is sometime between October and December 2021, while the second vessel, which will operate on the Uig to Tarbert and Lochmaddy route, won't be ready until autumn 2022.

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The shipyard had originally agreed to build both vessels at a cost of £97 million with anticipated delivery of mid-2018 and today the Scottish Conservatives demanded an independent inquiry into the "mismanagement" of the contract.

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“Having buried bad news, we are being told that the total cost to the taxpayer will have doubled to £200M and be over three years late in delivery. It’s clear that no-one in the SNP has been keeping a watching eye over this project for many years and questions will rightly be raised about the contract award in the first place

“There is still no clarity over what impact nationalisation will have on the shipyard’s ability to bid for contracts, how this will impact its recovery and what the total cost to the public purse will be.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that a full independent inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of this fiasco, the SNP Ministers simply must be held to account over this.”

Referring to a new report by the shipyard's "turnaround" director on the state of the business prior to it going into administration and being taken over by the government, he said: “This report highlights why public ownership was the only option open to us to deliver these outcomes and why it was the right thing for the Scottish Government to step in when we did.

“In particular, the report sets out in stark detail the failings of the previous management and the impact that this has had on the condition and progress of the ferries being constructed at the yard.

“I am now focused on the future and want to do everything in my power to make Ferguson Marine a success for its skilled employees and the wider community."

He added: “I am pleased that we are seeing good progress at the yard including the recruitment of new staff. The detailed understanding we now have of what it will take to complete the ferries is also a huge step forward.

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“While there is a lot of hard work to be done, the alternative for the Scottish Government was to walk away, which would have resulted in hundreds of job losses, the yard’s closure and our vital ferries not being finished. I am not willing to walk away.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles said: “The disastrous placing of the orders for the two new vessels has now resulted in almost a doubling of their costs. The taxpayer has been lumped with an extra £100million in costs and a huge delay.

“The Cabinet Secretary is quick to pin the blame on management at Ferguson, but let’s not forget the Scottish Government had a significant role to play in ensuring due diligence was conducted in full. Clearly it was not.

“This huge failure isn’t straight forward or easily escapable. Mr Matheson needs to explain to passengers and the public exactly how this was allowed to go so badly wrong.”