SHIPBUILDING in Inverclyde marked a new chapter in the history books this week as Ferguson’s in Port Glasgow launched MV Glen Sannox – the first ferry in the UK to use environmentally-friendly Liquefied Natural Gas and marine gas. 

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP, Scotland’s Transport Minister, officiated the launch of the hi-tech dual fuel ferry on Tuesday which is one of two ships being built at the yard for CMAL under a £97m contract.

I was fortunate enough to pipe at the event which marks a huge achievement for Inverclyde.

The launch however is not just a local success, but a national one too – especially since the funding for these state-of-the-art ferries came directly from the SNP Scottish Government.

The SNP Scottish Government has worked hard to improve and preserve Scotland’s industrial competitiveness, and MV Glen Sannox is evidence of this, as in 2015 the Scottish Government awarded a £1 million grant to Ferguson’s to invest in 100 new shipbuilding jobs and to safeguard 125 existing positions.

Without this grant it’s difficult to see how Ferguson’s would have been able to produce these two world class ferries.

This is not the first time Ferguson’s have produced a ‘UK first’ ship however as in 2013 the shipyard launched the world’s first RoRo hybrid ferry for CMAL, ‘MV Hallaig’.

Inverclyde is once again a key player in shipbuilding and we must promote the skills and talent that this constituency is home to for Ferguson’s success is to continue.

When discussing the SNP’s commitment to Scotland’s industrial future, it would be wrong to not mention the Scottish Government’s efforts in helping secure an agreement to prevent BiFab from going into administration, saving 1,400 engineering jobs based in Fife and Lewis.

While these talks may have been able to lift the immediate threat of administration, there is still work to be done to secure the company’s long-term position.

However, Scottish Ministers have pledged to continue to work with BiFab, the trade unions and industry partners to identify ways to secure the long term future of renewables manufacturing on these sites.

On top of this, the First Minister’s indication that the government would loan money to BiFab if required, emphasises the SNP Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland as an industrial leader on the international stage and that they are willing to take the necessary and sometimes difficult steps to achieve this.