Covid shutdowns add £4.3m to over-budget ferry costs

MV Glen Sannox leaving dry dock in September. Photo Mark Gibson Digital

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Shutdowns of the Ferguson shipyard during the Covid pandemic have added an extra £4.3m to the cost of two over-budget and delayed CalMac ferries, including the new Arran ferry.

The Port Glasgow shipyard had to suspend working for four months during the first lockdown and was closed for another four weeks earlier this year.

Despite the latest shutdown, the yard still hopes to deliver the first ship MV Glen Sannox in April to June next year and was today (Friday) expected to move to seven-day working on the ferry, as reported earlier this month in the Banner.


The two ferries, one for Arran and other for the Skye/Outer Hebrides routes, were originally expected to enter service in 2018/19. They have been subject to repeated delays and will cost the public purse more than twice the original £97m fixed price contract.

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

A programme of remedial work to complete the ships, drawn up by the shipyard’s new management, will add an extra £110m-£114m to the overall cost.

Tim Hair, turnaround director appointed by ministers, said the Covid shutdowns were being treated as ‘exceptional costs’ in addition to this figure – but the remedial work itself remained within budget.


He told a committee of MSPs last week that in addition to a four-month shutdown last year, the shipyard had to close for four weeks in January to reconfigure amenities under new Covid guidance. The shutdowns cost £3.3m and £1m respectively.

Mr Hair said that 80 per cent of design work was now signed-off by regulators and that the latest delivery schedule of April to June 2022 for Glen Sannox, and December 2022 to February 2023 for the second ship, was still achievable.

Much now depends on the successful recruitment of 120 extra skilled workers to allow the yard to move to seven-day working taking the total workforce to more than 500.

The aim is to recruit UK-based workers, but if that fails, Ferguson Marine will have to consider foreign workers and any delays could affect the delivery schedule.