A FORMER executive with the shipyard company at the centre of Scotland's ferry building fiasco has warned that the newly nationalised firm is set to fail and warned of the "scandal" of shutting down innovation and business development and concentrating only on the toxic ferry contract.

John Morgan, the former director of business development for five years, says that Scottish Government-owned Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Holdings (FMPG), has no future view and that former owner tycoon Jim McColl would be able to rescue the business in a return to the yard.

Mr Morgan, who says he was asked to leave by £791,000-a-year FMPG turnaround director Tim Hair is angry at his treatment and says the nationalised “rescue” was nothing of the sort adding: "It was but for one thing - and one thing only - to finish the toxic ferry contract. Full stop."

Mr Morgan claims that after providing a presentation about future developments for the yard he was told to leave by Mr Hair saying: 'Now that we’re nationalised - we don’t need innovation'.

He says projects to build a fishing boat factory for Scotland at Riskend, adjacent to Inchgreen where vessels could be built has been lost.

Also ditched was a key involvement in trying to deliver the first seagoing vehicle and passenger ferry which will be fuelled entirely by hydrogen.

Two previous companies running the Ferguson Marine shipyard have gone into insolvency in the past seven years.

An analysis from former managers of the Port Glasgow shipyard have referred to “inevitable failure for the business” because of the way it was being run.

Auditors for the state-owned FMPG have said there are no guarantees that it will continue to operate in the future although directors of FMPG have signed off recent financial statements on a “going concern” basis.

HeraldScotland: Pictures Mark Gibson Newsquest Media Group.Pictured Fergusons Owner Jim McColl.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a visit to Ferguson Marine shipbuilders in Port Glasgow this morning to reveal that the firm is the preferred tenderer for a

FMPG was set up by ministers as a vehicle to take over Jim McColl's Ferguson Marine Engineering (FMEL) which had fallen into administration while trying to fulfill a disastrous ferry contract.

The collapse of FMEL, which runs the last remaining shipyard on the lower Clyde, in August 2019, came amid soaring costs and delays to the construction of two lifeline island ferries and resulted in a Scottish Government management takeover.

The delivery of new island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which were due online in the first half of 2018, was found to be between four and five years late, with costs doubling to over £200m.

CMAL has recorded that as of February, only 86 staff worked across both vessels compared to a predicted 360.

Mr Morgan said: "Innovation and business development is the future. In the absence of that how can you do anything other than building the ferries you have got.

"The situation cannot continue as it is because if it does there will be an end to Ferguson Marine possibly even before the vessels are even built. It is a shambles.


"Looking ahead through the prevailing clouds, there is an allocation of £281m for new ferries in the Transport Scotland Infrastructure Plan. If the Government fails to get to grips with this floundering situation, it will be almost inevitable that we will see those contracts for new Scottish ferries going out of Scotland in a yet further evaporation of opportunities and employment for our local communities.

"It is becoming clearer by the day that, unless they steer a new course, the shipyard lost again - first through a toxic contract in private ownership and second - and probably last - through a failed nationalisation."

He said that multi-million pound opportunites have been lost with now politics steering the Ferguson Marine ship.

Ministers have said they believe they were acting in the public interest in taking control of FMEL in August 2019, saving it from closure, rescuing more than 300 jobs, and ensuring that the two vessels under construction will be completed.

Mr Morgan said that said one project that was lost was HySeas III – which aimed to deliver the first seagoing vehicle and passenger ferry fuelled entirely by hydrogen.

The HySeas III consortium was jointly led by FMEL and St Andrews University, and included partners from around Europe.

At the global GreenTech Awards 2019 in Berlin, the consortium represented by FMEL won the Innovation of the Year award for its work on a hydrogen propulsion system. After receiving this award management say the firm was inundated with enquiries about its hydrogen technology.

Also gone was a Ferguson Marine project to build a fishing boat factory at Riskend, adjacent to Inchgreen where vessels could be built, was also lost, they said.

Working closely with the Clyde Fishermen’s Association and Inverclyde Council, agreement was in place for FMEL to build a new fishing boat factory on the Inchgreen site, the fishing industry predicting that Brexit will result in an increase of over 30% in the size of the UK fishing fleet.

Depending on the initial investment this would allow for the production of up to 12 vessels at any one time.

He says nationalisation also put paid to opportunities for future naval work.

FMEL had been working closely with Babcock for three years as part of its consortium, a partnership that envisaged fabrication for selected hull blocks to be built by the yard.

It was working partnership that could have seen the Port Glasgow yard with naval work for at least the next seven to eight years.

"The two ferries were a toxic destruction of the whole plan," he said. "Thihs is the biggest tragedy of what has happened.

Mr Morgan featured in a video as Ferguson Marine were the winners for Manufacturer or Producer of the Year in The Greenock Chamber Bees Knees Awards five years ago

"I think the Covid pandemic is a smokescreen for what has gone wrong and everything else that goes wrong in Scotland. And this is a travesty. It hurts so much."

He said he was stunned when he was told he had no future at Ferguson Marine.

"I had showed him what we are doing... the innovation of hydrogen, the frigates, the fishing boat factory and at the end of it he said they know all that but now that it is nationalised we don't innovation, we don't need business development, we don't need community communications, and we don't need you. He told me to clear my desk, pass my laptop over and be out before four o'clock'.

"It shocked the life out of me."

"Their one objective is to build those ferries.

"If you have a shipyard that has two toxic things, one in the water and one on the slip, what have you to do to rescue it. Firstly finish the job and you have to get more business. There was business there. But now.

"If Jim McColl goes back in there and I hope he does, I think that is what he wants to do, he will look to the people that were with him and rebuild the best he can."

An FMPG spokesman said: “We will not be commenting on statements, or their veracity, by former FMEL contractors.

“The senior management team at the shipyard is focused on the future and their priorities are to deliver the dual fuel ferry programme, improve productivity, secure contracts for future vessels, and protect local jobs.”