THE £2m project to install the new linkspan at Gourock Ferry Terminal has been delayed after surveys revealed 'underwater obstructions'.

Project bosses say issues with the existing berth structure mean that the completion date for the project has slipped back and will move into 'early 2021' as a result.

The huge LARA 1 crane barge removed the old linkspan at the start of November and subsequent infrastructure and underwater inspections have uncovered unexpected anomalies in the 50-year old berth, making it difficult to put the new linkspan into place.

The crane barge has remained at Gourock Ferry Terminal as part of plans to install the new linkspan this week, but port owners CMAL have decided to demobilise the installation operation.

During the closure, both Dunoon and Kilcreggan crossings have been operating from Gourock Boat Steps under an amended timetable.

They now plan to make rectifications to the berth structure before proceeding with the new lift-in operation.

Paul Colenso, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said: “We’re extremely frustrated by this unexpected issue.

"Extensive surveys were conducted as part of the project planning process however, the old linkspan was concealing issues that only became apparent through the technical checks we conducted after it was removed.

"This can happen with marine engineering projects, when positioning of harbour structures and water levels mean it is not possible to see everything."

Bosses at CMAL say they the additional work required 'will inevitably cause delays'.

Mr Colenso said: "The programme for rectifying the issue has not yet been determined, but we anticipate the installation of the linkspan and the subsequent return of the berth to full operations will now be in January 2021.

"We will be able to provide more clarity around the revised programme in the next couple of weeks.”

It's also emerged that delivery of new fenders has been delayed too.

They are on a container ship stuck waiting to enter the Port of Felixstowe, which is currently experiencing widely publicised issues with delays and stockpiles created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It's hoped the ship may enter the port this weekend.

The fenders are essential to complete the project and allow the linkspan to be commissioned for use.

The linkspan life extension project began back in October, with an original completion date of December 23.

It involves repairs to the linkspan support structures and 'dolphins' and replacing the steel deck and associated mechanical and electrical equipment.

When complete, Gourock will be available as an alternative mainland port for vehicle services.

CMAL is progressing options for the redevelopment of Gourock Ferry Terminal as part of an overall project to deliver a modern, reliable and resilient lifeline passenger ferry service between Gourock, Dunoon and Kilcreggran.