NATIONALISED shipbuilders Ferguson Marine insist that hopes of ending Scotland's £230m lifeline ferry building fiasco on track after completing a crucial phase of a massive repair job.

It comes after Jim McColl, the former owner of the now nationalised Ferguson Marine called for the intervention of the auditor general as ministers missed a key deadline to produce an analysis of the debacle.

Work on the problematic bulbous bow on MV Glen Sannox destined for the Arran to Ardrossan route and currently nearly four years behind schedule has been completed after being moved down the Clyde to Greenock.

And Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Ltd hailed the development as an indicator that the project is "getting back on track."

Ferguson Marine collapsed last summer owing more than £49m to the Scottish government, and it was eventually taken into public ownership while the ferry building costs more than doubled from an original £97m.

The Scottish Government-owned Ferguson Marine described the move to repair the MV Glenn Sannox as a "major step to completion" of both it and a second vessel, known only as Hull 802, which was supposed to be delivered to Calmac in the first half of 2018 for use in the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle. It is also around four years behind schedule.

Shipbuilders Ferguson Marine say ferry-building is

Turnaround director, Tim Hair said “The removal of the mis-manufactured bulbous bow marks another major landmark in our recovery programme for the dual fuel vessels.

“The journey to getting them to completion has not been without its frustrations, but this latest milestone is another indicator that the project is getting back on track.

“Like all businesses globally, we were impacted by further delays this year due to Covid-19. Now, with over 50% of our workforce back at the yard, operating in line with government guidance and work on both ferries scheduled to ramp up this Autumn, I am confident in the progress we are making and optimistic for the future of the shipyard.”

Ferguson Marine collapsed last summer owing more than £49m to the Scottish government, and it was eventually taken into public ownership.

In 2017, before the official launch of the MV Glen Sannox, the bulbous bow was rejected by maritime classification society Lloyds Register.

Ferguson Marine says that uring inspection, the surveyor said the manufacturing process failed to meet International Association of Classification Society (IACS) construction standards.

It described the replacement of the bulbous bow as a "crucial part" of MV Glen Sannox’s current programme of remediation work which also includes the installation of deck windows, paint and coating repair, hull cleaning, pipework modification and more.

Shipbuilders Ferguson Marine say ferry-building is

MV Glen Sannox is scheduled to return to the Ferguson shipyard at the end of August.

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and Mr Wheelhouse are due to appear before the rural economy and connectivity committee when it resumes its investigation into the controversial ferry contract on August 26.

But it was confirmed there is a delay in the progress report over the ferries in letter from Mr Wheelhouse to the committee convener, Conservative Highlands and Islands region MSP Edward Mountain.