New CalMac ferry sets sail in first sea trial after six year delay

The MV Glen Sannox that has been built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard is millions of pounds overbudget.

The first of two massively-delayed and overbudget ferries has set sail as it began sea trials six years late.

The Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa have faced multi-year delays and have a price tag of at least £360m – compared to an initial estimate of £97m.

On Tuesday, the MV Glen Sannox, due to be the new Arran ferry, left the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow and took to the Clyde where it will be put through a series of tests.

The vessel is due to be delivered in March, while the Glen Rosa has a delivery date at the end of May 2025.

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During the Glen Sannox’s initial trials, the vessel will “gather pace, slow down and stop many times”.

Anchors will also be tested and a tug will be attached for safety.

Further endurance tests, designed to evaluate how it will cope when operating at higher speeds for longer periods of time, are scheduled for after dry-docking in April.

The two vessels being built at Ferguson Marine’s shipyard in Port Glasgow to bolster Caledonian MacBrayne’s (CalMac) fleet in the west of Scotland were due to be completed in 2018.

The contract for the ferries had been awarded in 2015. But in December 2019, the ship builder was nationalised to save it from administration.

Last month, MSPs were told that the Scottish Government couldn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be further cost increases for the two overbudget ferries.

Then-wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray said that, while he did “not want to see a further cost overrun” for the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa, he could not give any firm commitments.

His comments came as the committee scrutinised the Scottish Government’s budget’s for 2024-25, with MSPs told that £42.5m has been set aside for the two ferries, being built for state-owned operator CalMac, for this financial year.

Gray said the Scottish Government could consider giving publicly owned Ferguson Marine money to modernise its facilities to try to help make the Port Glasgow yard more competitive when it comes to bidding for other contracts.

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