J PATRICK Maclean (Letters, September 1) asks whether Scotland still has the necessary skills to design and build seaworthy ships. Is it possible that Ferguson Marine went into receivership because it simply can’t?

The current shambolic fiasco regarding the Arran ferry and another hull is, of course no-one’s fault: it is not the fault of an incompetent designer (despite the number of alterations which have had to be made). It is not the fault of an incompetent builder (despite the mistakes which have been found). It is not the fault of an incompetent Calmac quango board, which persists with blinkered decisions about what type of ferry is suitable for Scottish waters and harbours, but which appears to be bullet-proof despite a long, long history of mismanagement: it built a ferry for the Stornoway run, but then had to alter the Ullapool harbour because the boat was too big. It is building a ferry for Arran… but is now having to alter Ardrossan harbour, because the boat is too big. And it is certainly not the fault of a Government which puts political expediency above sound business decisions (but then, don’t they all?). After all, it is not its money, it is ours.

I feel for the splendid CalMac staff, who unfailingly put up with customers’ ire and with their superiors’ mismanagement with politeness and good grace. I agree with Mr Maclean’s lament about Western Ferries. Pentland Ferries is currently showing what can be achieved when sound decisions regarding ferry design and finance are put into practice.

It is time to put an end to the Calmac monopoly, and to allow the islands the secure and reliable service which they deserve.

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.

BUSINESSMAN Jim McColl accuses the Scottish government of delays and cost overruns on most of its infrastructure projects. But his main complaint is that the Holyrood committee investigating the Calmac ferry debacle has not sought evidence from former Finance Secretary, Derek MacKay, who nationalised Mr McColl’s Ferguson Marine shipyard. Mr McColl’s coup de grâce was to condemn the SNP’s record in delivering large-scale public sector projects: "Everything they touch is a mess’". And so say all of us.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.

THE Scottish Government is being anything but open, clear or transparent in having adult conversations with the Scottish taxpayers. Your report on Monday ("Design change work for lifeline ferries carried out in Romania", The Herald, August 31) tells us differently.

The SNP wants to be seen as "stronger for Scotland" when in reality it is stronger for Romania.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.