NICOLA Sturgeon has claimed Scotland’s nationalised shipyard at the centre of a ferries fiasco “is on a journey to recovery”.

But the First Minister admitted that “it has a way to go in that journey” as she responded to criticism over the latest contracts to build two ferries going overseas.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Ferguson Marine has failed to be in the running for a £100 million contract to create two new ferries to serve Islay.

Scottish Government-controlled Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), which owns Scotland's ageing ferry fleet, have invited four overseas companies to bid for the contract to build the two vessels.

It had originally sought to award a contract estimated at over £50m for just one in March 2022.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Tory MSP Jamie Greene, said: “Back in 2016, Nicola Sturgeon declared that her government’s intervention at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow was going to be an incredible triumph. She said at the time that it was ‘living proof of how the SNP stands up for ... Scottish jobs’.

“In 2019, the yard was forcibly nationalised despite much protest and warnings that it would be a complete disaster.

READ MORE: Anger as state-owned Ferguson Marine loses £100m CalMac ferries contract to overseas firms

“Which bit of welding together Scotland’s future ferry fleet in Romania is standing up for Scottish jobs?”

But the First Minister insisted that her government’s actions have saved jobs and that the facility would continue to complete work on two ferries.

She said: “Due to this government’s interventions at Ferguson’s, there are hundreds of people working at Ferguson’s today who would not be working at Ferguson’s, because it would not still be operational had we not intervened in that way.

“Ferguson’s is on a journey to recovery. It has a way to go in that journey, as I think is self-evident.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “Its priority is to complete the two ferries that are currently under construction and, of course, continuing the work to ensure that it is in shape to compete successfully for contracts, both domestically and further afield, in future. We will continue to support the yard in that vital work.

“Let us be in no doubt that, but for the actions that the government has taken, Ferguson’s doors would be closed right now, and those hundreds of workers who are there would not have a job.”

Yesterday, the SNP's Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes, said she would accept no excuses from management at the yard in the completion of the ferries.

She said: “Leadership does matter and I’m monitoring progress at the yard closely through the board, who ultimately oversee operational matters and hold management accountable for performance.

“I have been crystal clear with the yard’s management that I expect – no ifs, no buts – the two vessels to be completed and the yard to get into a position to compete successfully for tenders."