Concern equipment is deteriorating on new ferry

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There is growing concern that much of the equipment installed on the MV Glen Sannox may have to be replaced before she comes into service on the Arran route next year.

Much of the equipment on the vessels was installed in 2016 and it may have deteriorated since then as the vessel awaits completion at the Port Glasgow yard, four years on.

A new report by Ferguson Marine’s board of directors, where the ship is being built, states: ‘Although surveys, remediation and replacement have taken place under government ownership there remains an unquantifiable risk that equipment problems may emerge during commissioning.’

They also say that the successful implementation of the IT improvements is critical to the success of the ferries project and that if this is unsuccessful it could delay the planned delivery of the MV Glen Sannox next year.

The concerns were contained in the quarterly update of turnaround director Tim Hair to the convener of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, provided an update on the progress of the MV Glen Sannox and sister ship Hull 802.

Mr Hair reported on a number of key issues affecting the builds and future fortunes of the, now nationalised, shipyard.

From a financial perspective the report confirmed that, since the firm is treating Covid costs as an exceptional item, the shipyard is still on track to deliver the project on budget – between £110m to £114m.

Following earlier reports of staffing issues, the updated report confirmed that the overseas workers who were enlisted to fill vacant posts, have settled in well and that these people – who are mainly in the fabrication trades – are now having more time to weld and cut on Hull 802 as these types of skills are required less on MV Glen Sannox as construction advances.

It was also noted that the number of overseas workers was increased from 60 to 90 in early October, with the potential for more if required.

Reporting on the impact of Covid on production, Mr Hair said: ‘Our workers have continued their diligent and responsible approach to Covid and although the total number testing positive since the start of the pandemic has reached 88 (from 18 in June) we have only had a total of two cases of in-yard transmission. In common with many businesses, Ferguson has recently experienced some disruption due to self-isolation requirements, but these remain at a manageable level.’

Promising IT upgrades, of which the full benefits are expected to be experienced in November, are reported to be progressing well and they will help streamline operations by linking seven separate data systems to communicate with each other.

This is expected to speed up and improve: engineering information, stock control, procurement and work order processing, and project planning among other anticipated improvements.

Of particular importance, particularly for MV Glen Sannox which is already four years overdue, is that the delivery schedules are still in the range of July 25 to September 25, 2022 for MV Glen Sannox, and between April 3 to July 3, 2023 for Hull 802.

The report concluded with an optimistic view that Feguson Marine will be competing for future work involving the construction of ferries, lighthouse tender vessels, research vessels as well as fishery protection vessels and coastal and offshore vessels that are below 40 metres in length.