THE FERGUSON Marine ferries are to be delayed for a further six months, SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney has confirmed.

MV Glen Sannox’s handover date to Caledonian MacBrayne is now expected to be autumn 2023, whilst the 802 is delayed to autumn next year.

Speaking to the chamber, Swinney expressed his deepest regrets over the delay. He said: “It is a matter of great disappointment that a further revision to the timescale of delivery has been necessary.

“I welcome the chief executive’s assurances that Ferguson Marine will continue their best endeavours to deliver both vessels sooner than these days.”

Swinney also confirmed that a further £6m will be allocated to help complete the ferries but warned that costs may rise again due to the delays.

He added that design gaps and build errors had led to the date of completion of the vessels, which are already five years behind, being pushed back again.

Scottish Tory MSP Graham Simpson said the delay is a “disgrace.” In a statement, the shadow transport minister added: “John Swinney’s admission that these ferries could both be delayed by a further seven months beggars belief, given they are already more than five years late. 

“This is another kick in the teeth to Scotland’s islands communities who have been betrayed at every turn during the SNP’s ferries scandal. 

“It is also a kick in the teeth to Scottish taxpayers, who are being fleeced further as the costs of this fiasco soar yet again."

David Tydeman, current chief executive of Ferguson Marine, expressed his disappointment at extending the delivery timescales for the two ferries. He added: “But after sensible conversations with the broader stakeholders, there are compelling reasons for doing so. 

“Every week that passes takes us closer to completion on both vessels. The issues that we are uncovering – while generating delays - tend to be smaller scale and less of a challenge to overcome. 

“Looking ahead, post-delivery of the two LNG hulls, we believe there is a strong future for the yard."

The announcement of these further delays comes amidst a row over a damning report released earlier this week by Audit Scotland.

The report highlighted that £87,000 in performance bonuses were paid to senior managers in 2021/22, with doubts raised about the assessment process and governance around these payments. 

At the time, Auditor General for Scotland Stephen Boyle warned the shipyard may not have a viable future. 

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross led on the issue of ferries at FMQs today. He attacked what he called the “SNP ferry scandal” and claimed the whole Ferguson Marine affair had “damaged our nation’s reputation for shipbuilding excellence.” 

He also mentioned the Audit Scotland report and the bonuses received by senior managers, which he said shouldn’t have been allowed given the shipyard’s failures. He asked: “First Minister, what were these bonuses for?”

Nicol Sturgeon said that the report was critical of these bonuses and that the government accepted that criticism. She also told the chamber: “I have said many times we deeply regret the delay to the completion of the ferries and cost overruns.

"That indeed is why changes have been put in place, new arrangements have been put in place to ensure that a situation like this doesn't arise again." 

The First Minister also noted that the management has changed at Ferguson Marine since the last financial year.

Sturgeon added that the Scottish Government remains determined to address the issues.