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Shipyard Delays As CalMac ferries’ Unused Engines Experts Fear Risk of Failure after Years Left Idle

7th April 2022
One of the Scottish shipyard CalMac ferries, Glen Sannox in this file photo taken under construction in Port Glasgow. One of the Scottish shipyard CalMac ferries, Glen Sannox in this file photo taken under construction in Port Glasgow. Credit: The Sunday Post

Costing £4m are the engines bought for two much-delayed and over-budget (CalMac) ferries which as The Sunday Port writes, have not been tested since being delivered more than five years ago as experts warn they may now fail.

The Scottish government-owned shipyard, Ferguson Marine took delivery of four dual-fuel engines and two back-up engines from Finnish firm Wartsila but on Saturday confirmed the engines – which can use diesel or liquefied natural gas (LNG) – have never been run and will not be tested until late summer at the earliest.

One expert warned the lag in running the engines threatens their performance while another, a former Scottish Government adviser, said the years of idleness risks them seizing up if the ferries, which, it is feared, may cost at least £400m, are ever launched.

Dr Spyros Hirdaris, a professor of maritime safety, based at a Finnish university near Helsinki, where engine manufacturer Wartsila is based, said: “There is a high possibility that the ferry engines won’t work and it seems very high risk to expect everything will go according to plan. If you have a car for a long time and never switch on the engine it’s probably not going to work. It’s extremely important the engines are tested on board so it’s not a good thing that they haven’t been tested for all this time.

More here from the Clydeside shipyard saga.

Published in Shipyards
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Afloat will be focusing on news and developments of shipyards with newbuilds taking shape on either slipways and building halls.

The common practice of shipbuilding using modular construction, requires several yards make specific block sections that are towed to a single designated yard and joined together to complete the ship before been launched or floated out.

In addition, outfitting quays is where internal work on electrical and passenger facilities is installed (or upgraded if the ship is already in service). This work may involve newbuilds towed to another specialist yard, before the newbuild is completed as a new ship or of the same class, designed from the shipyard 'in-house' or from a naval architect consultancy. Shipyards also carry out repair and maintenance, overhaul, refit, survey, and conversion, for example, the addition or removal of cabins within a superstructure. All this requires ships to enter graving /dry-docks or floating drydocks, to enable access to the entire vessel out of the water.

Asides from shipbuilding, marine engineering projects such as offshore installations take place and others have diversified in the construction of offshore renewable projects, from wind-turbines and related tower structures. When ships are decommissioned and need to be disposed of, some yards have recycling facilities to segregate materials, though other vessels are run ashore, i.e. 'beached' and broken up there on site. The scrapped metal can be sold and made into other items.