The launch date for Glen Rosa, one of two ferries being constructed at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard has been set for March 12, next year.
It was meant to be delivered to Scottish Government-owned ferry operator CalMac in July, 2018 but it has been confirmed that the current schedule for completion remains May 2025 at the earliest – over a year after the proposed launch.
Nicola Sturgeon launched the other ferry, Glen Sannox six years ago in a Saltire-waving ceremony and it remains out of action to customers. The contract delivery date was May, 2018 but it is not expected to be ready till spring of next year at the earliest.
Details of the Glen Rosa launch prompted hope amongst some that the vessel’s launch heralded a more imminent arrival for use of passengers.
But Ferguson Marine has said that the launch only signifies the data that the vessel will enter the water for the first time.
A spokesman said it was carefully planned to take advantage of the highest tides.
A Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) spokesman said: “Glen Rosa will be more than 500 tonnes heavier at launch than Glen Sannox, reflecting the more advanced stage of completion. She needs to launch in deeper waters.”
A ferry user group official said: “It is clear that the launch, much like the Glen Sannox is merely symbolic and does not bear any reference to when it will be actually ready.
“There was a lot of excitement amongst some who thought that it might mark its actual early arrival but sadly it is clear that is not the case.”
It comes as Glen Rosa and Glen Sannox have been subject to further hold ups to meet safety standards.
Changes to evacuation routes and passenger seating layouts to secure safety certification and approvals from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which is responsible for implementing British and international maritime law and safety policy, means that both vessels will carry nearly 300 passengers fewer than contracted for to allow for improved passenger seating layouts.
They were both due to hold up to 1000 passengers when they eventually come into service.
Glen Sannox was ‘launched ‘six years ago.
Concerns have also been raised that regulatory clearances for the two fiasco ferries at Ferguson’s were not made in good time – after it emerged they failed to comply with safety rules that are years old.
Safety clearances for both ferries were rejected on June 1, sparking a redesign.
The capital costs of the two ferries are now estimated to be approached £370m – although this does not take into account the taxpayer millions that are pumped into Ferguson Marine for running costs.
A new due diligence investigation will look at whether to sanction a request by the nationalised shipyard firm Ferguson Marine for extra costs this year which could rise to over £51m.
It has been confirmed that the new investigation will be for extra costs of at least £21m.
Further contingency costs have also to be considered which could add up to a further £30m to the bill.
It is understood there is a further potential multi-million pound bill expected after the vessels are handed over because equipment warranties have expired.
Wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray confirmed in May that the government was to proceed with the ships after an earlier due diligence process failed its value for money test.
He issued a rarely-used ministerial direction to overrule the value for money financial test saying completing the vessel at the nationalised yard was the fastest way of delivering more ferry capacity.
The review concluded in May that there was a value for money case for finishing the first vessel Glen Sannox but not for Glen Rosa.
It’s value for money study found it would be cheaper to scrap the second ferry and place an order elsewhere.
But the Scottish government said continuing the build of Glen Rosa was the fastest way of securing a new ship
Some £15m was given to the yard in advance of completing due diligence in the last financial year with a further £57m sanctioned this year.
David Tydeman, chief executive of Ferguson Marine said the safety regulator is at least in part to blame for delays in safety clearances for the two vessels.
He admitted he knew about the problems within three months of him joining the firm in February, 2022. But the issues did not become public knowledge until September.
He said part of the problem was that local MCA officials in Glasgow had been “overruled” in relation to clearances by the head office in Southampton.
The chief executive of the MCA said the safety rules relating to the vessels had been in place since 2009.
Ferguson Marine had originally indicated that it approached the safety body about the escape routes on April 11, 2023 and the plan was rejected sparking a redesign.