TWO ferries at the centre of a Scotland's £230m shipbuilding fiasco have been delayed by a further six months, it has emerged.

Both lifeline ferries which were due to be in  service in early 2018 are now up to nearly five years behind schedule.

The Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow was awarded a £97 million contract to build the vessels, designated 801 and 802, before it collapsed into administration last August and was saved by the Scottish Government.

However, significant delays were discovered in the building of the ships, pushing their completion back to October 2021 and July 2022 for 801 and 802 respectively, as well as doubling the cost.

It means the final ferry will not be ready to serve island communities until the end of 2022.

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop has confirmed that the first of the ferries the MV Glen Sannox is now destined for the Arran to Ardrossan route betweeen April 2022, to June, 2022. 

Pre-lockdown the already delayed timetable had the Glen Sannox in action by October to December, 2021.   

HeraldScotland:

A second vessel, known only as Hull 802, which was supposed to be delivered to state-owned CalMac in the first half of 2018 for use on the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle - will not now be in service until between December, 2022 and February, 2023. 

"This has been a hugely challenging year for the business," Ms Hyslop told MSPs.

"In line with much economic activity across Europe the Covid pandemic has essentially closed the yard for six months. Despite that interruption to business much has been achieved."

Ms Hyslop added: "Work to complete the ferries can now proceed at full speed. I believe we can look to the future with confidence."

Contracts were signed in 2015 for the ferries, apparently at a fixed price of £97m for delivery in 2018.

But the yard, already rescued by tycoon Jim McColl, went into administration setting off a bitter row between the businessman and the Scottish Government.

But MSPs were critical of the performance of the Scottish Government.

Labour MSP Colin Smyth told the Scottish Parliament: " This ferry fiasco strikes at the very heart of the incompetence of this Government.

"With costs doubling, and these ferries now running five years late, it’s time the Scottish Government took some responsibility for this growing scandal."

And Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, Graham Simpson MSP added: "It's a shambles."

She said the total additional estimated cost for the project remains unchanged at between £94.8 million and £98.8 million.

Ms Hyslop added: "Work to complete the ferries can now proceed at full speed. I believe we can look to the future with confidence.”