Ferguson Marine is to be taken into public ownership, the Scottish Government has announced
In an announcement on 16 August, the Scottish Government confirmed it had reached an agreement with administrators to take the Port Glasgow-based shipyard into public control.
The agreement means two ferries currently under construction at the yard for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) will be completed, ensures work will continue toward delivering other vessels currently under construction, and secures continued employment for more than 300 workers.
One of the main tasks for the yard going forward will be developing a revised cost analysis to establish what needs to be done to ensure the two CMAL vessels are completed.
Economy Secretary Derek Mackay visited the yard on Friday morning UK time to meet the workforce and newly appointed turnaround director Tim Hair, who is a marine engineer and member of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology.
Mr Mackay said “Public control will provide much-needed continuity of employment now and ensure the completion of the CMAL ferry contracts at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.
“It is absolutely essential that the outstanding contracts to build these two ferries are completed in order to sustain the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network and provide vital support for the economies of our island communities.”
Mr Mackay has since told a local radio station, Radio Clyde News, that the new board may need to "scale up" the workforce to ensure the ferries are finished on time.
Ferguson Marine’s directors served notice of intent to go into administration on 9 August, following a long-running dispute with the Scottish National Party-run government over construction of two dual-fuel LNG ferries for CMAL. The £97M (US$118M) fixed price contract for the two ferries reportedly doubled in cost, in part due to technical complexities in developing and installing dual-fuel propulsion.
Trade union GMB Scotland’s organiser and Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions Scotland chair Gary Cook said “It is five years since the yard went bust and the Scottish Government has prevented that from happening again.”
The yard will be operated under a management agreement between administrators and the Scottish Government while its sale process is completed. Should no viable commercial offer be forthcoming, the Scottish Government will acquire the yard fully.
Ferguson Marine is also involved in Orkney’s HySeas III hydrogen fuel-cell ferry project as builder, with construction expected to start in 2020 and the vessel due to hit the water in mid-2021.