This article appears as part of the Scotland's Ferries newsletter.

Scotland's wildly delayed and hugely over budget new ferry is set to miss the whole summer season due to the continuing issues with completing it.

It has been confirmed that the latest target for the handover of Glen Sannox from nationalised shipyard firm Ferguson Marine for use by state-owned ferry operator CalMac will not be until the week beginning August 19 after further problems.

But once handed over, there will be period of two months where CalMac prepare the vessel to accommodate passengers. The summer timetable ends on October 20.

The Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes is due to visit the yard to have what she called "another full and frank discussion" over the delivery of the ferries.

After the last in a long series of rescheduling surfaced at the end of April meant that it was due to be handed over in July, wellbeing economy secretary Màiri McAllan said she believed it would be the last in the wake of the appointment of new interim Ferguson Marine chief executive John Petticrew.

Then she said: "The confirmation of further delays to Glen Sannox is unacceptable and disappointing, in particular for our island communities and users across the ferry network.

“However, I am pleased the interim chief executive considers this to be the final position, with no further delays expected and confirmation that cost forecasts remain the same. I will continue to impress on both him and the Ferguson Marine board the importance of ensuring both ferries enter service as soon as possible.”

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The latest three week delay is because of issues with the so-called green dual fuel system.  

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes said any delays were “disappointing” but she emphasised that delivery from Ferguson Marine will take place this summer, while the Conservatives said the delays will hit the tourism economy.

But the handover does not take into account the time needed for CalMac to carry out crew familiarisation, safety drills and network trials.

The shipyard continues to have trouble with the so-called green liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel system for the ferry after facing delays from suppliers.

Both Glen Sannox and its sister ship, the also delayed Glen Rosa, are designed to run on both traditional marine gas oil and LNG.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government has sanctioned keeping on emergency ferry MV Alfred for another six months.

It means that the MV Alfred will have had to provide lifeline services for nearly two years and will remain in place until March 2025.

Both Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa were due to be ready in the first half of 2018, with both now due to serve Arran, but will be over six years late, with costs expected to be quadruple the original £97m contract.

But the dates of arrival have been constantly in a state of flux as their construction has been plagued by design challenges, cost overruns and delays.

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson said: "If the latest delay to the Glen Sannox results in it not serving our islands for the whole of the summer season it would be the latest betrayal of those communities by an SNP Government who have let them down at every turn.

"The SNP's ferry fiasco has cost Scottish taxpayers hundreds of millions and left islanders continuing to wait for lifeline ferries, yet not one single ministerial head has rolled.

"Ministers must urgently come clean if these reports are accurate and the devastating impact it will have on the economy of Scotland’s islands if yet another summer goes by without new ferries being available."

(Image: Derek McArthur)
One ferry user group official said: "It should be stressed that all islanders want is to see Glen Sannox actually delivered and operating. But even the wellbeing economy secretary cannot be believed when we were last told that the last delays would be the last. Within weeks that was found to be not the case.

"So another summer will have come and gone, with all the disruption that there continues to be and neither Glen Sannox or Glen Rosa are available for either us or visitors.

"It is no wonder that MV Alfred has had to be re-chartered because nobody is confident about anything regarding the delivery of the ferries at Ferguson Marine. I would argue that the handling of this affair amounts to maladministration and it does make you wonder whether any lessons have been learned."

MV Alfred has primarily operated to and from Arran whilst on charter, sailing the Ardrossan/Troon – Brodick route. Her current charter ends on August 21 and she is timetabled to operate from Troon – Brodick until then. Plans beyond then will be agreed in consultation with stakeholders in the next few weeks.

Mr Petticrew has previously admitted that the installation and commissioning of the LNG has been "particularly challenging".

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He said following his appointment, the team has now determined a "more focussed approach" to the completion of the Glen Sannox.

Ousted chief executive David Tydeman was fired in March after a tumultuous two years at the helm of the nationalised shipyard as he warned of yet more delays to delivery.

Nationalised Ferguson Marine warned at the end of December that there could be a further delay of two months as it was facing "supplier issues" which is delaying the commissioning of the vessels' LNG propulsion systems.

A further delay was going to push back the completion of Glen Sannox beyond a scheduled date of March, and would be expected to affect sister vessel Glen Rosa’s arrival on May 2025.

The Scottish Government has previously said all systems – including the LNG propulsion – will need to be completed before the state-owned ferry and port-owning agency Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd can take delivery.

Plans for the introduction of the 'eco-friendly' vessels had already been thrown into new chaos as it has emerged two key Scots ports will not be capable of providing the 'green' fuel.

In what was described as a "new ferry shambles", the Scottish Government confirmed that there is no budget to provide the necessary port facilities for LNG at either Ardrossan or Troon in 2024/25.

The Scottish Government-owned ferry operator CalMac has already been planning to use Troon rather than Ardrossan for the two ferries that will serve Arran. That was when it was hoped that the first of the vessels would be ready for passengers in the Spring of last year.

The dual-fuel ferries which were meant to be identical were lauded by then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as the 'sustainable' ferries that would "contribute to Scotland's world-leading climate change goals".

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They were hailed as a step towards a greener future for Scotland's state owned CalMac ferry fleet as they were to be the first UK-built ships capable of running off liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as well as conventional diesel.

MV Alfred was first chartered from Pentland Ferries in April 2023. Since joining CalMac, modifications have been carried out to her ramp to allow a wider variety of vehicles to travel onboard.

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes said: “While any further delay is disappointing, the decision to reschedule by three weeks will allow the yard to deliver the Glen Sannox this summer as well as protect other critical work. It is encouraging all parties are working together to ensure that the vessel enters service as quickly as possible.

“I will be visiting the yard soon and expect to have another full and frank discussion with the interim chief executive about delivering both vessels.

“I remain committed to ensuring these vessels are delivered for our island communities. The programme to deliver six vessels by 2026 remains on target.”