FERRIES: Glen Sannox build costs rise by £20.5 million

Glen Sannox
The Firth of Clyde shipyard said it faced extra costs correcting previous mistakes.

By Bill Heaney

The cost of building a long-delayed and over-budget CalMac ferry at the Ferguson shipyard across the River Clyde in Port Glasgow has risen by a further £20.5 million.

The yard’s boss told MSPs that issues with securing regulator approval meant the planned delivery date could also slip again, into next year.

David Tydeman said the shipyard was continuing to discover problems arising from past design or build mistakes.

The final cost of building Glen Sannox and its sister ship Hull 802 will now be more than £300 million.

The two ships were meant to cost £97 million and be delivered in 2018 under the terms of the contract signed nearly eight years ago.

But the project has been blighted by design issues and an acrimonious dispute between former yard owner Jim McColl, left, and government-owned ferries procurement agency CMAL, who blame each other for the problems.

Mr Tydeman, who took over in February last year, believes mistakes continued to be made after the Port Glasgow shipyard was nationalised in 2019.

In his latest update to MSPs, he said the yard had been forced to carry out a large amount of re-work on Glen Sannox to correct previous mistakes.

This included replacing equipment and pipework that did not meet the specification and modifying steelwork because the design or equipment had changed.

His estimate for the cost of completing Glen Sannox – over and above the amount paid out before nationalisation – has now risen from £97.5 million to £118 million.

Costs have also risen for Hull 802, but Mr Tydeman hopes to claw those back by applying lessons learned during construction of the first ship.

Mr Tydeman also revealed that new issues had surfaced this month with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) which issues safety certificates for ships in the UK. He will update MSPs on the implications of this over the next month.

A planned few days in dry dock for Glen Sannox expected in September has been re-scheduled for December, and he cast doubt on whether Glen Sannox could now be delivered by the end of the year.

“It’s clear and regrettable, that having 100% confidence in the delivery date for Glen Sannox will remain a challenge monthly as we progress through commissioning, snagging and handover trials during the rest of the year,” he wrote.

Well-being Economy Secretary Neil Gray said he was “extremely disappointed” by the latest cost increase, but said the government would continue to fund the build because it was in the interests of island communities and the economy of Port Glasgow.

He added: “I have made it repeatedly clear that I expect the management of FMPG [Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow] do everything possible to minimise costs and ensure that these vessels enter service as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Conservatives said the cost to the public purse of the two ships, once two largely written-off loans totalling £45 million were added in, was now approaching £360 million.

Transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “To add insult to injury, it now appears delivering the Glen Sannox by the end of the year is a ‘challenge’ so we’re looking at yet another intolerable delay.”

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