HARDLY a month goes by without reading about more bad news from Ferguson’s shipyard.

We are now told of further delays concerning the construction of MV Glen Sannox, and the Glen Rosa.

It now seems that because of additional works, and alterations, the Glen Sannox is not expected to be handed over to CalMac until March 31, 2024.

I wonder if Ferguson’s will be the butt of April fools jokes, the following day.

The handover for the Glen Rosa is now planned for the May 31 2025.

Further, due to the extent of the required alterations, the passenger numbers have been reduced from 1,000 down to 852.

I can remember writing in these pages in March 2022, although with tongue in cheek, that it would not surprise me at all if one of the ferries from Turkey would be in service before either of the two vessels from the Ferguson yard.

It may well still be possible.

The vessels from Turkey are due to be handed over at the end of October 2024 and by the spring of 2025.

It seems highly likely that there will be more choppy waters ahead for the troubled project here, with the public purse again being raided to pay for mismanagement and incompetence.

CMAL’s investigation into CMAL found that CMAL had not committed any fraud. CMAL instructed Barry Smith KC to investigate the award of the contract. His report concluded “I did not find any evidence of fraud. That is not the same as saying that the procurement was conducted perfectly.”

Mr Smith’s investigation did not look specifically into whether procurement rules had been breached.

His remit was far too narrow, designed to avoid the Scottish Government’s interference, and incompetence being exposed.

Why did the SNP choose the most expensive of all the six tenders submitted?

At the time the contract was awarded, Nicola Sturgeon said “This is an excellent result for Ferguson’s, and I am delighted to name them as preferred bidders for the contract to build two new ferries, the largest commercial vessels to be built on the Clyde since 2001. With the FMEL Team, submitting the highest quality bid that offered the best value for money.”

It certainly has not turned out that way.

I fully appreciate that the Scottish Government were never much in favour with the late Baroness Thatcher’s political decisions, she did however provide eight new ferries for CalMac between 1984 and 1989 during her time as UK Prime Minister.

The SNP came to power in Scotland in 2007 and in the last sixteen years four ferries were built for CalMac.

The SNP government are directly responsible for the failure to replenish the CalMac fleet. More than a third of the ferries are working beyond their expected lifespans.

Other delays can be highlighted which are outwith Ferguson’s control, namely the infrastructure requirements to harbours, and the provision for storage facilities for LNG fuel.

At Ardrossan Harbour, which will accommodate the Glen Sannox and the Glen Rosa reports suggest the upgrade will not be completed until 2025. Uig Harbour refurbishment is expected to be complete by the summer 2024.

The shoreside storage tank for the LNG fuel will not be commissioned until the upgrade to Ardrossan Harbour is completed.

I much prefer the Norwegian attitude to similar matters, they build their ships to suit existing harbours.

It is expected that the LNG fuel will come from Qatar and delivered to the Isle of Grain at Kent, a journey of approximately 3,000 nautical miles, then a further 450 miles by road tanker to Ardrossan.

It is interesting to note that the ferries from Turkey will not require LNG fuel, those ferries will use diesel electric/battery hybrid propulsion.

J.R. Miller