THE construction of Scotland's lifeline ferries has been subjected to a new near four-months of delay pushing the near five year hold up back even further.

One of the ferries, MV Glenn Sannox - which is destined for the Arran-Ardrossan route was due to enter service in the summer of 2018 but construction delays meant that was initially put back to the summer of 2019.

The second vessel, known as Hull 802, was supposed to be delivered to ferry operator CalMac in the autumn of 2018 for use on the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle, and had then been due to be delivered in the Spring of 2020

A revised ferry delivery scheduled last year stated Glen Sannox was to be completed between April and June 2022 and  Hull 802 between December 2022 and February 2023.

Now Ferguson Marine have confirmed a further 15-week delay in the construction of both vessels.

READ MORE: Jim McColl looks at court action against Scottish Government over ferry fiasco

As a result, MV Glen Sannox is scheduled to be delivered between July 2022 and September 2022 while Hull 802 is scheduled to be delivered between April 2023 and July 2023.

HeraldScotland:

Ferguson Marine have blamed the delays on recruitment challenges and Covid-19.

The state-owned company says the  pandemic caused six months of disruption in 2020 and productivity has continued to be impacted due to a "further shutdown in January 2021 and the introduction of additional safety measures".

"The timeline impact of ongoing disruption has been calculated as seven weeks, with additional costs of £1 million..." the company said.

" It brings the total COVID-19 costs to £4.3 million, which is treated as an exceptional item and does not affect the overall project budget."

THE nationalised shipyard company which  made a £100m loss in its first four months of Scottish Government control says the costs are still at more than double the original £97m contract.

"Recruitment challenges since late 2020 have caused a delay of eight weeks as the shortage of local skilled labour meant that Ferguson’s had to meet resource requirements by subcontracting smaller fabrications to Scottish businesses, which has supported 25 jobs, and introducing overseas workers," Ferguson Marine said.

A report to MSPs also outlines achievements and progress to date, including a major milestone in the build of MV Glen Sannox with the completion of structural work.

"Progress is visible with the installation of a reworked funnel and newly constructed mast, as well as completion of the structure around the stern and inside the hull," Ferguson Marine said.

HeraldScotland:

"Remedial work has been completed on hull paintwork and the first layers of protective paint have been applied to the aluminum superstructure. Completion of the structure makes way for outfitting of the vessel, which includes the installation of 10km of pipework and extensive equipment, plus the creation of public spaces and cabins and full furnishing.

"Despite the challenges and delays, shipyard management remains positive based on improved capability built over the past 18 months, including a highly qualified and capable leadership team in place. The senior management team now has 130 years of combined shipbuilding experience, with other new expert appointments and existing high-calibre employees promoted into key positions."

READ MORE: State-run 'ferry fiasco' Ferguson Marine shipyard firm makes £100m loss in four months

The Port Glasgow yard went into administration in August, 2019 with the ferries still far from completion, and was taken over by the Scottish government.

According to financial papers seen by the Herald, the accounts deficit is linked to a revised programme for delivering and completing the ferries which created a £94.5m loss on the contracts.

The Scottish Government has pumped over £17m into the business during the four months to March 2020 - including £10m into the construction of the two ferries.

Ferguson Marine director Tim Hair, who is taking home £790,000 a year to run the enterprise for the Scottish Government:  said: “I know the further delay to the project will be a disappointment to island communities and others who await the arrival of the new ferries. There remains a lot of work to do on the vessels, but it is important to recognise the level of progress too, as well as the significant operational improvements we have implemented to introduce robust and effective business processes. We have, in effect, created a functioning shipyard business from a standing start.

HeraldScotland:

“The past year has been extremely challenging; we’ve been working under the restrictions and pressure of a global pandemic, and recruitment has proved difficult, with the pool of skilled workers insufficient to meet our resource requirements.

“However, we now enter a new phase of production. The milestone on MV Glen Sannox is highly significant because, for the first time in this project, we have a complete vessel structure to work with. Construction is also progressing on Hull 802, with the first new units recently lifted into place.

“We have reached an important turning point from reworking the past to building the future. We are doing everything possible to deliver the dual fuel ferry programme, improve productivity, secure contracts for future vessels, and protect local jobs.”