FERGUSON Marine could lose a 'world-first' hoverbarge contract because the vessel is now over six months late with no completion date in sight.

The Port Glasgow shipyard was supposed to deliver the innovative self-propelled, air-cushioned barge for client CMI Offshore by July or August 2019 but it is still not finished.

The Telegraph has learned that there has been no work on the vessel since last year and that the hull may now have to be scrapped.

Bosses from CMI Offshore, which opened an office in Scarlow House in the Port town centre last May, confirmed the delay and added that they are now considering their options.

The loss of the work would be another blow to the yard following months of turmoil since the business went into administration in August as a direct result of a delayed and over-budget £97 million contract to build two CalMac ferries.

The Scottish Government, which nationalised Ferguson's in December to safeguard shipbuilding on the Lower Clyde and save around 300 jobs, insists the hoverbarge order has not been pulled and discussions with the client are ongoing.

But a source told the Tele: "CMI Offshore are on the verge of cancelling the order meaning the yard has another possible failure on its hands. "There's been no work on the vessel this year and the yard has no workers on it at all at the moment. The job is at a standstill. "Rumour has it that CMI will start building a new vessel overseas and just allow this one to be scrapped and Ferguson's will be left with the hull lying on the slipway as they don't know when they can finish it."

The hoverbarge contract was signed between Mangistau ACV Solutions - an offshoot of CMI Offshore Group - with the previous owners of the yard, Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL).

The business has since been renamed Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Ltd following the government takeover.

Richard Keisner, chief executive of CMI Offshore Group, said: "At the present time the original contract signed with FMEL remains in place.

"The vessel is late and a number of options are currently being evaluated."

The order was supposed to be for the 'world's first self-propelled, air-cushioned barge' capable of carrying a load of 150 tonnes 'over tundra, swamps, ice and water'.

Work started in October 2018 shortly after the deal was signed.

Scottish Government officials say it is 'incorrect' to suggest the order has been cancelled.

A spokesperson said: "The contract for vessel 803 remains with Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, which is currently in administration, while discussions between the client and the new, publicly-owned, Ferguson Marine business take place.

"These discussions, to find an acceptable resolution to both technical and commercial concerns, are ongoing and the yard remains hopeful of a positive conclusion and the delivery of the vessel by Ferguson Marine."