The Scottish Government have been accused of ‘farcical incompetence’ on the fifth anniversary of the launch of a delayed CalMac ferry.
The MV Glen Sannox vessel – one of two dual-fuel ferries being built at Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow (FMPG) – was unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon five years ago.
However, the ferry has not yet entered service after being unfinished at the time of the initial launch and has been plagued by setbacks.
Chief executive of ferry owner CMAL, Kevin Hobbs has said the vessel was launched into water too early, and that this added to the cost overrun.
The delivery date for the vessel has been delayed from May 2018 to between March and May next year amid a number of building problems.
The total costs associated with the MV Glen Sannox and the sister vessel Hull 802 have soared from £97million to more than £250million.
Hull 802 is expected to be delivered between October and December 2023.
Ferguson Marine confirmed last month that the most recent issue with construction would mean the ship, which was initially dubbed “UK’s most environmentally friendly ferry” would have to run solely on diesel after it initially enters service.
Reports from CMAL have warned faults present a “serious threat to the project”, leading to fears the ferry may never enter service.
Scottish Government say they “deeply regret” the delays and extra costs of the ferries.
The Scottish Conservatives have branded the roll-out of the new ferry a “fiasco” and called for a public inquiry into the handling of the ferry delivery.
The party’s shadow minister for transport Graham Simpson MSP, said:“The five year anniversary of a ferry launch should be a cause for celebration, but that will not be happening today.
“If the SNP had not botched this process at every single turn, then islanders could have enjoyed years of seamless travel by now.
“Instead, they have had to endure years of delays which has had a crippling effect on our island communities and they have little confidence that this nightmare will end anytime soon.
“CMAL bosses warned that launching the vessel at this time was premature, but their valid concerns fell on deaf ears.
“Nothing was ever getting in the way of a good photo-op for the First Minister on this day five years ago.
“Senior SNP figures are too busy continuing to pass the blame around each other rather than taking responsibility for their monumental failures.
“That is why we urgently need a public inquiry to get to the truth of this fiasco once and for all.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government’s priorities have always been the completion of the two ferries, securing a future for the yard and its workforce, and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel on a daily basis.
“We deeply regret that the vessels are taking longer and costing more than they should. We continue to urge Ferguson Marine to do all it can to bring down costs and meet the agreed delivery schedule.”