NEW technical problems including issues with 125 miles of cables are posing a further threat  to a project to deliver of one of the vessels at the centre of Scotland's ferry fiasco.

New nationalised Ferguson Marine analysis reveals that there remains a  concern that the number of faults outstanding are a risk to the acceptance of the two vessels currently languishing at their shipyard.

There had been past concerns that a spiralling catalogue of faults with vessels to serious shipyard concerns over whether they will ever see service.

In May, internal documents from nationalised shipyard firm Ferguson Marine admitted a serious risk that minister-controlled ferry owners and procurers Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited may not accept the vessels for the ferry operator CalMac’s lifeline services to Scotland’s island communities. Those concerns remain.

Officially, Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which are due to serve the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network will be delayed until at least next year – over five years later than planned while costs have at least doubled from £97m to £250m.

But a July CMAL update raised further concerns about delivery, saying that a Ferguson Marine project report from May "did not consider the significant threats posed by the continued risk of late cable installation".

It said that consideration is only given to the reinstatement of nearly 17 miles of cables removed from Glen Sannox in February.

But it said "no consideration" was given to the main body of cable installation that extended ship-wide totalling 125 miles.

And it said that the issues with cabling presents "a serious threat to the project".

It also said that there was a threat posed by the timescale to manufacture and install pipe spools needed to complete essential systems.

On the cable issued CMAL stated: "Progress is slow and it remains to be seen whether the installation contractor can meet the program's objectives."

CMAL's analysis went on: "Ongoing design changes affecting the constructability of the vessels' design are driven exclusively within the shipyard process to meet regulatory and contracted specification requirements and are not driven by CMAL request for change.

HeraldScotland:

"All are related to outstanding technincal queries and are not driven by CMAL request for change.

"All are related to outstanding technnical queries and previously unidentified works.

"Closure of final design gaps is needed, which at this late stage of the project remains a significant risk to the project."

The number of faults that remain outstanding on Glen Sannox alone stands at 47, of which 15 related to safety, maintainability, or specification requirements. That is 24 fewer than in May.

But a June analysis says that there remains a serious risk that that if all the faults shown in owner observation reports (OORs) are "not agreed as closed" with CMAL that acceptance of the vessel "will be difficult to achieve". It was given a 250 risk score - the highest level.

Ministers have also been told that CMAL have noted that the frequency of call out inspections on Hull 802, which are used by Ferguson Marine to verify completed production, were "worryingly low".

Ministers were told the callout inspections should be seen as a "significant KPI" (key performance indicator) , and now also as "a potential risk", as these inspections can be used to highlight the amount of work still to be completed.

Ferguson Marine, meanwhile, state in an internal document that key challenges it is facing included the installation of cables, completion of pipework, closure of the OOR faults, availability of experienced supervisors, a "shortage of experience trades", availability of materials.

Nicola Sturgeon presided over the 2017 launch of Glen Sannox.

Despite this the transport minister Jenny Gilruth and the Deputy First Ministers John Swinney have been told that CMAL believe the continuing build of both vessels is "progressing safely with no major issues identified"

Delivery dates for Glen Sannox remains between March and May next year and between October and December next year for Hull 802.

But a update to ministers says: "CMAL have highlighted that the current rate of cable installation presents a serious risk to the project along with the need to continue to close design gaps and make progress on commissioning."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “CMAL recently made clear that it is confident that outstanding issues can and will be rectified and the vessels completed to enter service.

“Installation of cabling is behind schedule. The yard’s senior management team is monitoring progress and is in regular discussion with its cabling contractor to rectify this issue as swiftly as possible.

HeraldScotland:

“The Scottish Government has been clear on its expectations from Ferguson Marine around delivery of the vessels and making the business competitive.”

The two new dual-fuel ferries, which were meant to be identical, were once 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.

A spokesperson for Ferguson Marine confirmed that the cabling contractor was behind schedule but added:  “They have now increased resources to align with the commissioning programme. 

"In addition, we have made good progress with closing OOR’s and other CMAL issues over the last two months, with the number of key outstanding actions to be completed before handover further reducing to 15.  While not without challenges, the target of delivery between March and end May 2023 remains achievable.”

A CMAL spokesman said: “There has been a significant milestone this month with the MV Glen Sannox returning to the yard following a scheduled three - week drydocking at Dale’s Marine. While the installation of cabling is behind schedule, the yard’s senior management team is monitoring progress, and is in regular discussion with its cabling contractor to rectify this issue as swiftly as possible. We are confident that outstanding issues can and will be rectified, and both vessels will be completed to enter service.”