A WEST of Scotland-based ferry boss has warned commercial operators will now be “nervous” of ordering new vessels from the Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde, amid the ongoing fallout from a contract to build two dual-fuel boats to operate on the west coast.

A report by MSPs into the procurement and delivery of the two vessels for the CalMac network slammed the process as a “catastrophic failure” earlier this month. Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) awarded Ferguson, then owned by Jim McColl’s Clyde Blowers Capital, the £97 million contract to build the ferries in 2015. But the process was blighted by delays, spiralling costs and a breakdown in relations between CMAL, which owns the ferries run by CalMac, and shipyard bosses.

The vessels have still to be completed and are expected to cost at least double the original contract value, with Ferguson having been nationalised last year after falling into administration.

McColl had acquired the Ferguson yard after it previously went into administration in 2014.

Gordon Ross, managing director of Dunoon-based Western Ferries (Clyde), said his firm has successfully procured four linkspans and two of its four vessels from Ferguson.

He said: “While Ferguson were working on the new boats for CMAL, we had a linkspan delivered on budget and on time.

“When the contracts [for the Cal-Mac ferries] were awarded to Fergusons, it was a great opportunity for the new company to spring forward for the future.

“But for a Holyrood report to use the word catastrophic is itself catastrophic. If you are a commercial shipbuilder, part of the contract of work process is technical ability and track record.

“There is diligence work done when it comes to placing orders. My concern is that the cost overruns and delays may create a real nervousness for commercial operators to place orders with Fergusons.”

In their 129-page report, MSPs called for a “root and branch overhaul” of the ferry procurement process, declaring that established procedures are “no longer fit for purpose”.

Mr Ross added: “It is just a real shame that the overall project has ended up being called catastrophic by a Holyrood committee.”

Western Ferries runs a car and passenger service connecting Gourock and Dunoon.