TWO ferries being built on the Clyde for the publicly owned operator CalMac in a £100 million deal have been hit by new delays, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The roll-on roll-off car and passenger vessels for the Clyde and Hebrides network are being built at Ferguson Marine Engineering at Port Glasgow.

The MV Glen Sannox, launched last year, was initially due to be delivered in May but was pushed back to this winter. Its completion date is now June 2019 and it is due to enter service on the Ardrossan-Arran route around two months later, after sea trials.

The second vessel (hull 802), due to operate on the Uig-Lochmaddy and Tarbert service, is expected to be finished the following spring.

The delays come amid calls for increased capacity on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network to meet greater demand from islanders and tourists.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said yesterday: “Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd has advised us that ... the MV Glen Sannox, will now be delivered during summer 2019, and the second vessel in spring 2020. While this further delay is disappointing, it is important to focus on the fact that we will have two new ships joining the fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides network that have been built in Scotland, providing vital support to our ship building industry.”

The development comes just weeks after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a £30m government loan to Ferguson to help it diversify.

Opposition politicians criticised the postponements for the dual-fuel diesel and liquified natural gas (LNG) ferries.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Far from disappointing, this is a complete shambles.”

Labour’s Colin Smyth said ministers have known about the delays for months and added that island communities were being ‘let down”. A spokesman for Fergusons insisted the ferries would be delivered to the new timetable and would “become the jewels in the CalMac fleet”.

He said: “These two dual-fuel LNG vessels, are the first such vessels to be built in the UK and as such are prototypes.”

The spokesman said the delay was caused in part by a more complex checking and certifying process for the new type of ferry than that used for standard models.

He added: “Overarching this however, has been the unforeseen complexities arising from our customer’s requirements throughout the project to date. These circumstances could never have been foreseen and taken into account in the original delivery dates.

“We must bear in mind, however, the backdrop against which these world-class vessels are being delivered – we have re-established world-class capability for commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde in Scotland after 40 years of under-investment.

“The vessels which will be delivered to the new timetable and to the highest standard of quality, will become the jewels in the CalMac fleet.”

Fergusons is owned by Jim McColl, of engineering giant Clyde Blowers. He rescued the yard after it went into administration in 2014. The yard won the £97m CalMac contract in 2015, securing work for its 150 employees.