FERGUSON'S shipyard in Port Glasgow is to go back into private ownership under plans unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Neil Gray, cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy, has confirmed that there is an intention for the nationalised ferries fiasco yard to be offloaded by ministers.

Ferguson's was taken over by the Scottish Government four years ago after its financial collapse under the control of tycoon businessman Jim McColl as a row erupted over long delays and mounting costs over the delivery of two lifeline ferries.

Glen Sannox and Hull 802 were due online in the first half of 2018 when Ferguson Marine was under the control of Mr McColl, with one initially to serve Arran and the other to serve the Skye triangle routes to North Uist and Harris, but they are at least five years late.

The last estimates suggested the costs of delivery could more than quadruple from the original £97 million cost.

Greenock Telegraph: Neil GrayNeil Gray (Image: Scottish Parliament TV)

Mr Gray confirmed the Scottish Government's intentions when asked what he thought the future holds for the yard at a Holyrood committee meeting this morning.

He said: "We hope that Ferguson Marine can continue to make progress to being a commercially successful yard.

"That was the intention of saving the last commercial yard on the Clyde, to ensure that we protect the jobs, so that we can protect the manufacturing base that is there and the traditions of Scottish manufacturing.

"Clearly there are challenges at Ferguson's that are well documented, but we continue to work with the management and the workforce to ensure that the two vessels are delivered as quickly as possible and then there is the opportunity for Ferguson's to bid for further work and make itself commercially successful."

Greenock Telegraph: Ferguson Marine, Port Glasgow. Glen Sannox and Ship 802.

He was asked by shadow transport minister Graham Simpson at the Scottish Parliament's economy and fair work committee, if it was the intention to return Ferguson Marine to the private sector.

Mr Gray responded: "Yes."

"Obviously, the better Ferguson's is performing, the more likely it is that it's going to return to private ownership," he added.

"We'll continue, if there are interested parties come forward [who will] talk to government or our agencies, then clearly we will take that interest seriously and do what we can to ensure that the yard is returned as a commercial going concern into private ownership as quickly as possible."