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Holyrood committee launches inquiry into Ferguson Marine ferry contract

Cal Mac ferry - Image credit: dun deagh via Flickr

Holyrood committee launches inquiry into Ferguson Marine ferry contract

MSPs have launched an inquiry into the Ferguson Marine ferry contract that has seen the company nationalised following long delays and huge cost increases in the building of two new ferries.

The Scottish Government took the Inverclyde shipyard into public ownership earlier this month after its previous owner, Jim McColl, announced he was going to put the company into administration, jeopardising 350 jobs and the delivery of two ferries for the CalMac Clyde and Hebrides network.

The ferries had already been delayed amid a dispute between CalMac and the shipyard over rising costs for the innovative dual-fuel vessels that were not covered by the £97m fixed-price contract.

Yesterday it was announced that delivery of the ferries, which should have been finished already, was further delayed.

The first ferry, Glen Sannox, which will serve the Ardrossan to Arran route, will not be ready until near the end of 2021.

The second vessel, known as Hull 802, will cover the Skye, Harris and North Uist route and will not be finished until July or August 2022.

The price too has doubled, with finance secretary Derek Mackay estimating that the costs could now be closer to £200m, in part due to remedial work caused by the vessels lying half-finished.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has issued a call for evidence with the aim of finding out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned for the procurement and construction of future new ferries.

Areas the inquiry is expected to focus on include the updated costs and timetable for the completion of two new hybrid ferries, the Scottish Government’s decision to take Ferguson Marine into public ownership, and the potential implications for the ongoing development of the Scottish Government’s Ferries Plan and Vessel Replacement Programme.   

Committee convener Edward Mountain MSP said: “Repeated delays to the planned schedule for delivery by Ferguson Marine of the two new hybrid ferries have been further complicated by the company’s entry into administration and the Scottish Government’s subsequent decision to assume public ownership of the Inverclyde shipyard.

“These developments clearly have important implications not only for the completion of the two vessels, but also for future plans for the replacement and refurbishment of vessels to meet the ongoing needs of the Clyde and Hebrides ferries network more generally.

“The committee wants to find out not only what has gone wrong and how things will be put right, but how these problems can be avoided in the future.

“We need to make sure that the relevant lessons from this saga are learned for the procurement and construction of new ferries in future.”

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