FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon will launch the Glen Sannox ferry at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard on November 21, it’s been confirmed.

But delivery of the ship to CalMac will be delayed from summer to winter next year, the Tele can reveal.

And this will have a knock-on impact on the delivery of the sister ship also being built at the Port Glasgow yard.

Yard chief executive, Jim McColl, has given the news to the Scottish Government, who are paying the £97m bill for the two ships.

The 102-metre vessels will be the first in the UK to use environmentally-friendly liquefied natural gas and marine gas.

Mr McColl said in a letter to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf: “We are disappointed by the delays caused by the challenges presented by the specification of these vessels.

“However, the foresight shown by the Scottish Government to pursue a low carbon future in the ferry sector provides Scottish industry with an excellent platform to establish a leading position in low carbon marine technology globally.”

The yard boss said that while Ferguson Marine and vessel owners CMAL (Caledonian Marine Assets Ltd) continue to work closely together on the engineering issues arising from the unique nature of the dual fuel ferry project, the two ferries will not be ready on time.

Mr McColl said: “MV Glen Sannox, originally estimated for delivery in summer 2018 will now be delivered in winter 2018/2019.

“We are in the process of finalising the revised delivery date for the second ferry.”

Billionaire businessman Mr McColl has invested around £25m since saving Ferguson’s from administration, taking it from only seven employees to 360, including 37 apprentices and 92 contractors, and transforming the yard.

Minister Mr Yousaf, who will also attend the launch, said he was disappointed about the delay.

He said: “It is now important that all parties involved in the project refocus and make sure the ferries are delivered to this new timescale.

“I have agreed with Ferguson Marine and CMAL that, in line with good practice on other major infrastructure projects, a third party peer review will be undertaken by one or more industry experts.

“This will explore whether any time can be recovered and seek more specific delivery dates for the two vessels.”

The minister added: “We should view this news in the wider context of the efforts that the workers and management at Ferguson Marine have made to construct two innovative vessels, in parallel with the investment that has taken place to modernise the shipyard.

“The scale of the necessary upgrade has made day-to-day operations at the yard more complicated, impacting on the delivery of key milestones for the vessels.

“The positive news is that the shipyard is now fit for purpose for the completion of the new vessels and the delivery of future projects.”