THE Scottish Government has given a vote of confidence to Ferguson Marine in its protracted delivery of two new lifeline ferries, after a cabinet minister claimed the future of the yard 'would be in jeopardy' without the contract.

In an update to parliament on Tuesday afternoon, wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray re-affirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting the completion of the Glen Sannox and Hull 802 at the Port Glasgow site - despite admitting the deal has not provided value for money.

Following a due diligence assessment carried out on forecast costs, Mr Gray confirmed that a Ministerial Written Authority was issued in order to enable work on vessel 802 to continue.

Without such authority, the vessel would have to be re-procured and deployment of a new ferry potentially delayed for at least two-and-a-half years.

Glen Sannox is currently scheduled to be delivered this autumn, while 802 is planned to be ready by late summer of next year.

Mr Gray told Holyrood: "I am committed to supporting the workforce at Ferguson Marine and recognising the importance for jobs, skills, and the opportunity for future generations that the yard provides.

READ MORE: Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow to go back into private ownership, minister confirms

"More immediately, the continuing delivery of vessel 802 through Ferguson Marine ensures that the local economy benefits from the company's spend on salaries, sub-contractors and taxes which support the local labour market and wider businesses in the Inverclyde area and beyond which would be lost if we did not proceed.

"Finally, I remain committed to supporting a sustainable future for Ferguson Marine.

"I believe that confirming our intention to deliver vessel 802 at the yard provides a platform upon which future success can be built.

"Put simply, if vessel 802 was not delivered at Ferguson's then the very future of the yard and the hundreds of jobs it supports would be in jeopardy."

Earlier this month, bosses at the shipyard heralded a 'new era for commercial shipbuilding' as manufacturing work began on a Royal Navy frigate.

READ MORE: 'New era for commercial shipbuilding' as Royal Navy warship work starts at Ferguson's

Mr Gray has also confirmed the government's intention to denationalise the shipyard just four years after it was taken over.

In his ministerial speech this week, the SNP MSP also made clear his expectation that the management of the yard would continue to scrutinise and bear down on future costs, with bills anticipated to exceed the current estimate of £203 million.

He added: “While I accept the pure value for money assessment on vessel 802 is challenging, this narrow calculation does not take into account the added delays, the wider benefits of continuing the vessel’s build at Ferguson Marine or the full cost of not doing so.

"I am formally asking Ferguson Marine to do everything possible to improve productivity, maximise operational efficiency and ensure that there is a tight control on costs as well as having a focus on delivering the vessels as quickly as possible.

"When we took Ferguson's into public ownership in 2019, we did so to ensure the delivery of 801 and 802 and to secure the future of the yard and its workforce.

"We did so because of the vital significance of the vessels to our island communities and the yard to the local, regional and national economy.

"The decisions I have outlined today deliver on those commitments."