A lifeline ferry being built for Scotland in Turkey is on track to be delivered five years faster than one of the fiasco vessels being built at nationalised Ferguson Marine, it has emerged.

MV Isle of Islay - one of the first of the four ferries being built in Turkey in the wake of Scotland's ferry fiasco - is due to be launched on March 16.

The launch comes as a sign was put up at the Ferguson Marine yard in November giving a launch date of March 12 for MV Glen Rosa - the second of Scotland's two ferry fiasco vessels which is over six years late.

Beleaguered ferries MV Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa were due online in the first half of 2018 when Ferguson Marine was under the control of tycoon Jim McColl, with both now due to serve Arran but they are over six years late. The last estimates suggest the costs of delivery could more than quadrupled from the original £97m cost.

Due to the Ferguson Marine project to build the ferries being beset by ongoing delays Glen Rosa, is not now expected to be delivered to Scottish Government-owned ferry operator CalMac until May 2025. Glen Sannox is due to be delivered in March this year but there have been serious doubts over that schedule.

READ MORE: Work starts on the controversial building of CalMac lifeline ferries in Turkey

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the soon-to-be-launched MV Isle of Islay in Turkey, meanwhile, is on schedule to be delivered in October - seven months before the latest scheduled arrival of Glen Rosa.

A launch is a formal custom that celebrates a vessel being transferred from land to water for the first time but does not mean construction is complete and that the ship is ready for passengers. The traditional launching is the sliding of a ship by its own weight into the water down inclined launch ways.

MV Isle of Islay is the first of four ferries being built at the Turkish yard, and marks what Sottish Government-owned ferry owner and procurer Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) says is a "major milestone in its commitment to delivering new ferries to serve the Scottish islands".

CMAL says that the hull is now structurally complete with all blocks for the vessel have been erected and surveyed.

The Herald: MV Isle of Islay on the right, to be launched on 16 March 2024 (MV Loch Indaal on the left)

The launch will see the vessel move from the slipway into the water, where work will continue onboard.

CMAL say that in line with the shipyard build programme, the vessel will remain on the slipway until March, where installation of pipework, equipment, machinery, electrical works, and outfitting will be progressed.

Subsequently, underwater hull coatings will be applied, and propulsors installed before launching.

Following the transit from Turkey, the ferry which will serve Islay and Jura will undergo crew familiarisation and local operational trials before it enters service.

An official naming ceremony will take place on Islay towards the end of the year, where community representatives and stakeholders will be invited to board and tour the vessel to celebrate its arrival before it officially joins the fleet.

A ferry user group official said that it will come as no surprise to islanders that the vessels in Turkey will be carrying passengers to and from Scotland's islands before the Ferguson Marine-built ferry MV Glen Rosa and possibly even MV Glen Sannox.

"It really is a travesty," he said. "Many hoped that Ferguson Marine might have a future of delivering ferries going forward, if it could get its act together but the Turkey yard's performance is undermining those efforts, and it is all state-sponsored."

It comes as ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has been making plans for next winter on the assumption that the two new ferries for the Ardrossan-Arran route being built in Scotland still won’t be in service.

CalMac has been making preparations for its 2024-25 winter timetable that don’t include MV Glen Sannox – the first of the two new vessels due to be delivered by the troubled Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow.

According to the most recent delivery schedule, the Glen Sannox is due to be delivered in March this year – seven months before the 2024-25 winter timetable starts.

But there have been doubts raised over whether that schedule will be met, with Ferguson Marine chief executive David Tydeman saying delivery will depend on the progress of trials of the new ship.

The Herald:

It’s been over six years since the hull of the Glen Sannox was launched, on November 21, 2017.

It’s understood that the timetables for the Ardrossan-Arran service will be reconfigured once the Glen Sannox is actually delivered and ready to enter service.

The ships will have to sail between Brodick and Troon, instead of Ardrossan, until the improvement works at Ardrossan are complete.

MV Isle of Islay is one of four ferries being built at the Cemre shipyard in Turkey in the wake of the Ferguson Marine debacle.

MV Isle of Islay and sister ship MV Loch Indaal are being both being constructed for CalMac's Islay service.

Construction of the vessels got officially underway in October, 2022 after the £105m contract was controversially given to the Turkish shipyard.

CMAL has said that the new 310-foot vehicle passenger ferries will each have capacity for up to 450 passengers and 100 cars or 14 commercial vehicles, providing a combined 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity on the Islay routes and "improving the overall resilience" of the wider fleet.

They say carbon reduction has been a "key factor" in vessel design and the new ferries are expected to deliver a "significant reduction in emissions".

Jim Anderson, director of vessels at CMAL, said: "Work at the Cemre shipyard continues to progress well, with the project coming in on time and on budget. We look forward to witnessing the launch, which is a major milestone in the vessel's construction.

“We look forward to celebrating with the community towards the end of the year, where the vessel will be officially given its name, MV Isle of Islay.”

Transport minister Fiona Hyslop, said: “I’m pleased that the MV Isle of Islay will be launched at the Cemre Shipyard in March. Delivering six new major vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network by 2026 is a priority for this government and this is an important milestone as part of that commitment.

"Ahead of entering service later this year, I look forward joining the community as we celebrate and officially name the new vessel. People will welcome a more resilient and modern ferry service for Islay and Jura, and further vessels will soon bring similar and highly anticipated improvements for Island communities across Scotland.”

CMAL said the new ferry, along with its sister vessel MV Loch Indaal, will have a clear focus on freight, as well as sufficient passenger accommodation to meet anticipated demand. CMAL said this will provide a combined 40% increase in vehicle and freight capacity on the Islay routes and will improve the overall resilience of the wider fleet.