The leader of Inverclyde council has called for a probe into ferry contracts amid fears over the future of the Ferguson shipyard.

Councillor Stephen McCabe has asked for government assurances about Ferguson Marine Engineering shipyard in Port Glasgow, which provides jobs to 400 people.

McCabe said finance minister Derek Mackay must detail how the Clyde’s only surviving commercial yard fits into “the country’s industrial and maritime strategies”.

He has also called for an inquiry into the management of a contract between Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) and Ferguson Marine for two ferries for CalMac, which have been plagued with delays.

The local authority said it was the failure of the relationship which helped pushed the yard’s finances into the red.

McCabe said: “As the only surviving commercial shipyard on the Clyde, Ferguson Marine Engineering and its workforce are a virtually unique, national asset.

“I am looking for assurances on the role, beyond the current ferry contracts, that Ferguson Marine Engineering has to play in the country’s industrial and maritime strategies. It is important to know, specifically, the role that the yard might fulfil [as] Babcock International secures the contract to build the Royal Navy’s Type 31 Frigates.

“Beyond the potential Babcock International contract, I am also seeking to know what other contracts Ferguson Marine Engineering might tender for and what other long-term opportunities the Scottish Government has identified to secure these vitally important, local jobs.

“I want assurances that the previous owner’s expansion plans for the yard, and the proposed increase in the workforce, are not scrapped but play a key part in the Scottish Government’s plans for the yard’s future.

“It is also crucial that any local supply chains are strengthened and that we, and our partners, continue the strong relationship we have with Ferguson Marine Engineering in supporting training and development opportunities.

“Jim McColl has claimed opportunities were missed to resolve the issues between Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and Ferguson Marine Engineering in relation to the ferry contract.

“I firmly believe there are questions to be answered at a national level around this and that an independent investigation is required.”