FERGUSON'S have been told to get a move on and finally finish two new CalMac ferries which are already over a year late.

The Scottish Government and its vessels and harbour offshoot, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), have pleaded with the Port shipyard to hurry up with the completion of MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which are currently 13 and 19 months behind schedule, respectively.

Bosses from CMAL chiefs have also accused Ferguson Marine of not doing enough to get the ferries finished - something the company has today strongly denied.

A spokesperson for CMAL told the Telegraph: "Current work/resource on the vessels is a question for the shipyard. "However, CMAL's professional view is that the current level of resource is lower than expected at this stage of construction."

It comes as the two firms, both based in Port Glasgow, remain embroiled in a bitter battle over the escalating cost of the problem-plagued £97 million project, which looks set to end up in court.

The companies have, however, agreed on one thing - that suggestions circulating in the local area that Glen Sannox is taking on or gathering water are NOT true.

Work on the vessel - the first of the two dual-fuel ferries - began in November 2016 and it was originally supposed to be ready by May last year with the second ship to follow 'a few months' later.

There is now serious doubt over the revised dates of this summer and spring next year.

A CMAL spokesperson said: "Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) provided a delivery timeline of summer 2019 for MV Glen Sannox, and spring 2020 for Hull 802. "Currently, the project is around 13 months late for MV Glen Sannox and 19 months late for Hull 802, based on the revised delivery dates and those provided by FMEL in June 2018. "We have urgently requested an updated timeline for completion of both ferries, and we are awaiting a response from FMEL. "We, along with CalMac, Scottish Government and Scottish taxpayers, in particular those in island communities, eagerly await the arrival of the new vessels and we urge FMEL to focus on their completion."

The ferries were ordered in 2015 to ease the strain on the stretched and ageing fleet of Gourock-based operator CalMac.

Ferguson's say they will lose almost £40m on the deal and want more money to finish the vessels because they have incurred 'significantly higher costs', something which they claim is because of major changes to the vessels.

But their client argues that only 'minor' alterations have been made and say they have already paid nearly £1.5m for those from a £3m contingency fund - on top of the entire £97m budget for the contract.

CMAL chief executive, Kevin Hobbs, has called the situation 'sad and distressing', adding that the delays are causing 'considerable stress' on CalMac.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "While from a contractual perspective, the management of the contract is for FMEL and CMAL as contracting parties, the ongoing delay to the delivery of the vessels is of great concern to ministers and, clearly, hugely frustrating to stakeholders - particularly so for the communities who will benefit from their eventual deployment and the operator, CalMac.

"Scottish ministers are closely monitoring the situation and strongly encourage both FMEL and CMAL to engage constructively, as appropriate, to address the situation."

Shipyard chiefs say they are not in a position to provide an update on the scheduled completion of the ferries.

Gerry Marshall, chief executive of Ferguson Marine, said: "At this time, it is not appropriate for us to discuss delivery dates until we have informed both CMAL and the Scottish Government.

"We continue to work on both vessels.

"The work on these has not stopped. "With regards to gathering or taking on water, we can categorically assure that this is not the case.

"FMEL welcome the Scottish Government's request to 'engage constructively' and FMEL are making efforts in that regard."