The fate of a now Scottish Government-owned shipyard was deemed “close to irreversible” in 2005, new records have shown.
Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow was nationalised last year after it collapsed into administration, but Scottish ministers appear to have foreseen the downfall of the yard 15 years ago.
In the newly released minutes of a cabinet meeting on June 1 of that year, the controversy over the awarding of a contract for fishery protection vessels and a CalMac ferry to a Polish yard was discussed.
Losing out on the contract prompted Ferguson to lay off 100 members of staff.
Speaking two months before the awarding of the contract, then environment and rural affairs minister Ross Finnie said: “If the contracts were awarded to the Rementowa [Polish] yard, there were no other orders in prospect for the Clydeside shipyard and since the launch of its last ship a month previously, the yard had declined to a state that was close to irreversible.”
The cabinet also noted “with concern the outlook for the Ferguson shipyard”.
It would take 12 years for the yard to be brought into Government hands, sparking controversy over two ferries being produced there.
It was discovered by the Scottish Government that the vessels, 801 and 802, would face significant delays and cost more than double the initially quoted price, prompting a Holyrood inquiry this year to describe the procurement process as a “catastrophic failure”.
In another meeting of the cabinet in August 2005, Mr Finnie is shown to have pondered the communications issues with the contract.
Minutes of the meeting said: “It was difficult to explain to Scottish taxpayers why public funds were being used to buy a vessel from Poland and make redundancy payments to shipbuilders in Port Glasgow.”