In the Scottish Parliament, Shadow Transport MSP Graham Simpson expresses his frustration at the lack of answers over how much longer it will take to get the Scottish ferries ready.
Well, I’m asking a question in this chamber, and I expect to get an answer and the minister has not made an attempt to answer the question, which is by how long the ferries are delayed. It is not acceptable. We’re at a crisis point here. Just yesterday, only 13 out of CalMac’s 29 routes were operating normally. Islanders are at their wits’ end. There’s no slack in the system, so when a ferry breaks down, the knock on effects are horrendous. We need a steady pipeline of new ferries being ordered.
Business Minister Ivan McKee responds:
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Scotland’s islands have got the connectivity. That’s why we are making that substantial investment into ensuring that that is indeed the case. The details of the impact of that cable issue are being worked through at the moment and we will report back when the robust information is available as to the implications in terms of time and cost of that particular issue.
The Turkey order had been part of a £580 million investment in further expanding the ferry service. In contrast McKee’s predecessor, Graham Dey had asked for £1.5 billion over 10 years. A cross party visit to the shipyard planned for January had been cancelled and rescheduled for April 2022 . A freedom of information request to get an answer for when the two ferries will be ready, failed to be answered within the required 20 days and has been escalated to an appeal.
An extra £4.3m in costs have been added to the cost of the MV Glen Sannox and it sister ship. The Port Glasgow shipyard had to suspend working for four months during the first lockdown and was closed for another four weeks earlier this year. The shutdowns cost £3.3m and £1m respectively.
Tunaround director, Tim Hair, says the Covid shutdowns were being treated as “exceptional costs”, but the previously-announced remedial work, costing £110m-£114m, remained within budget. Hair said that 80% of design work was now signed-off by regulators and that the latest delivery schedule of April to June 2022 for Glen Sannox, and December 2022 to February 2023 for the second ship, was still achievable. Hair says the yard should be able to take on new work from next spring.
To date, 191 applications have been received for skilled workers, with 40 so far identified as having the relevant skills.
The former chairman of Ferguson Marine says he is taking legal advice on whether the Scottish Government’s report on his management, drawn up after it took ownership of the yard, was defamatory. He says the report is aa “snow job” to cover up the role of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, the government agency involved in procuring the ferries. McColl says design changes by CMAL caused the delays. and cost overruns.
[Criticism of the management team is] outrageous and unacceptable – the team selected were some of the best in the UK, and head and shoulders above those in there now. I’ve asked if we can sue them for defamation of character. There needs to be an inquiry. The way they’ve handled this is incompetent.
McColl also challenged the Scottish government’s plan to spend £100 million completeing the ferries, which would write off more than £80m already spent on them, as well as the £45m in loans from the Scottish government that have already been written off.
You’d be better building from scratch and to a design that’s more suited to what’s needed. They could probably build three smaller vessels for less than £100m and it would give them more flexibility.
On Good Morning Scotland, McColl says more work should have been done on the vessel’s design before the contract was tendered.
We have incurred significantly higher costs in the work we’ve had to do on these ferries, and we’ve been engaging with CMAL to discuss these costs. Maybe the best way to put it is that we’ve been frustrated in these discussions. We’ve been discussing it for over a year, and we have been funding that, so it’s been using a lot of our capital. We’ve been funding it solely. Our view is that these have been genuine changes that have had to be made to the work we’ve been doing, and they’re changes that ought to be incurred by the buyer. I believe that perhaps more design development work could have been done prior to the invitation to tender going out, rather than dealing with multiple things that are arising as we got into the build process. But we’re working diligently through that.
McColl also told the programme that Ferguson Marine had been extensively refurbished to prepare it for new Royal Navy and commercial contracts.
Speaking after meeting board members at the shipyard, Mckay says the new delivery schedule for the two ferries must be set by October.
We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future. On Friday, I met with the excellent workforce and stressed the Scottish government’s commitment to achieving the best possible outcome for the yard. Today, I convened the first meeting of the newly-established programme review board and tasked them with establishing a new delivery schedule for both vessels and a revised cost window. This group will help assess the current situation and ensure the effective and efficient delivery schedule of the CMAL ferry contracts as quickly as possible.
Gibson confirms the MV Glen Sannox will enter service in the summer of 2019:
Regarding deployment of the Glen Sannox on the Ardrossan route, it was confirmed to me on August 14 through a parliamentary question that it will enter service next summer, with a June delivery followed by two months of crew familiarisation and sea trials.