Nationalised shipyard Ferguson Marine has confirmed a 15-week delay to the construction of two new public sector ferries.
The firm said that due to the impact of Covid-19 and local skilled labour shortages, MV Glen Sannox is now scheduled to be delivered between July 2022 and September 2022, while Hull 802 is now scheduled to be delivered between April 2023 and July 2023.
They also said that the timeline impact of ongoing disruption has been calculated as seven weeks, with additional costs of £1m.
Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Holdings Ltd was nationalised in August 2019 after going into administration.
It had been contracted to deliver two vessels for CalMac for £97m, with an initial completion date set for 2018.
Companies House accounts published in April showed that Ferguson Marine made a £100m comprehensive loss between August 12, 2019 and March 31, 2020.
The latest update from the firm was outlined in a programme report submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee on Thursday.
The firm also stated that the overall project budget remains “stable and unchanged” at £110.3m, despite Covid-19 costs being calculated at £4.3m.
Tim Hair, turnaround director at the firm, acknowledged the disappointment brought by further delay.
He said: “I know the further delay to the project will be a disappointment to island communities and others who await the arrival of the new ferries.
“There remains a lot of work to do on the vessels, but it is important to recognise the level of progress too, as well as the significant operational improvements we have implemented to introduce robust and effective business processes.
“We have, in effect, created a functioning shipyard business from a standing start.”
Hair continued: “The past year has been extremely challenging; we’ve been working under the restrictions and pressure of a global pandemic, and recruitment has proved difficult, with the pool of skilled workers insufficient to meet our resource requirements.
“However, we now enter a new phase of production. The milestone on MV Glen Sannox is highly significant because, for the first time in this project, we have a complete vessel structure to work with. Construction is also progressing on Hull 802, with the first new units recently lifted into place.
“We have reached an important turning point from reworking the past to building the future. We are doing everything possible to deliver the dual fuel ferry programme, improve productivity, secure contracts for future vessels, and protect local jobs.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In common with the rest of the manufacturing sector, the Ferguson Marine yard was either closed or on restricted working for over six months due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The yard have since worked at pace to ensure continued progress has been made within the constraints of Covid-19 rules.
“The Scottish Government stands firm on its commitment to the vessels, the workforce and the yard.
“We continue to work with partners to minimise the impact of delays and ensure the vessels, which are critical to supporting the lifeline ferry network and the Calmac fleet, enter service as quickly as possible and deliver the service improvements which our island communities depend upon.”