Glasgow & West Scotland

Costs double on delayed CalMac ferry contract

Glen Sannox Image copyright Getty Images

The cost of completing two delayed CalMac ferries has more than doubled, the Scottish government has revealed.

A row over the construction of two ferries under a £97m deal saw the Ferguson Marine yard in Inverclyde taken into public hands.

Now a new assessment of the vessels has revealed costs have soared and they will be delayed again.

The first ship, Glen Sannox, destined for the Arran route, will not be ready until the last three months of 2021.

The second vessel - known as Hull 802 which is earmarked for the Skye, Harris and North Uist route - will not be ready until July or August in 2022.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay revealed the final bill for the two ships is likely to be close to £200m and they will enter service more than three years later than originally planned.

The Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow was taken into public ownership by the Scottish government earlier this year after repeated delays and rising costs for the ferry order.

The previous owner, tycoon Jim McColl who rescued the yard when it went bust in 2014, blamed repeated design changes by CMAL, the publicly company which owns ferries and other infrastructure used by CalMac.

Mr McColl also said the prototype dual-fuel design, using both marine diesel and liquefied natural gas, required lengthy certification procedures.

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Media captionResidents of Arran have voiced their worries about the future of ferry services

The finance secretary told MSPs the full extent of the problems were not revealed until administrators went in.

He said: "The failures of management, planning and process means the vessels are behind their original programme and that significant rework is required."

About £83m of public money has been spent on the vessels to date.

It is estimated the cost of completing the ships will be £95.1m, but remedial works and spending at the yard will push these costs closer to £110m.

Documents revealed concern about possible damage to the ships as they have been exposed to the elements at the shipyard for so long.

The underside of Glen Sannox, which has been moored beside the yard for two years, is to be inspected at a dry dock.

Work will also have to be carried out to reinstate paintwork that has deteriorated due to rainwater ingress.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Scottish Conservatives blamed the Scottish government for its oversight of the ferry contracts, and called for an independent inquiry.

The party's transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: "It is entirely the SNP's fault that we are in this mess.

"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."

Scottish Labour also said the Scottish government was responsible for how taxpayers' money was spent and asked if legal action would be taken to recover the extra costs.

GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook said: "We have seen previous delivery dates missed because of failures in the way this contract has been managed and the botched procurement process.

"This highly skilled workforce now needs to be allowed to get on with the job."

"There remain questions to be answered about how the yard, and hundreds of jobs, came to be threatened by this debacle but we also need unity of purpose from management, the client and the Scottish government that they are focused on completing the vessels and securing the future of the business."

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