Scottish ferry sailing cancellations spur shipyard mismanagement claims against ministers

Coruisk (Photo: CalMac)

Ministers of the Scottish National Party (SNP) have come under criticism for supposed mismanagement of a taxpayer-owned local shipyard in the wake of another recent string of ferry sailing cancellations.

Conservative ministers have called on the SNP to provide detailed plans for Port Glasgow shipyard Ferguson Marine after state auditors said there were no guarantees its business operations will continue in the future.

Ferguson Marine went into administration in 2019 after its two previous owners were declared insolvent. However, within just four months after coming under government control, the yard’s taxpayer-supported holding company incurred total losses of around £100 million (US$137 million).

Some observers have said the company’s financial troubles were also to blame for its failure to deliver two new ferries to serve the west coast routes of state-controlled operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac). The vessels are now scheduled to be handed over starting in 2022, four years after their original delivery date.

The renewed criticism against the SNP ministers was fueled by sailing cancellations that occurred within the last two weeks as CalMac admitted to one of its ferries, the 18-year-old Coruisk (pictured), being beset by technical issues requiring repairs.

One of the measures meant to alleviate the disruptions was the introduction of a 35-year-old relief ferry to serve some of the existing routes, albeit with limited capacity.

No timeline has yet been provided on the estimated completion of repairs on Coruisk.

Donald Cameron, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said the trouble was caused by “years of mismanagement by the SNP government.”

Liam Kerr, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, meanwhile stated that Ferguson Marine is under “a fresh risk of collapse” unless the SNP ministers craft a viable blueprint for the yard’s sustainable long-term operations.

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!