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Twin Newbuild Ferries in Scotland Could be Worth ‘Fraction’ of Cost when Completed, MSPs Told

18th November 2023
Twin newbuild ferries being built for CalMac’s Arran route on the Forth of Clyde could be worth only a ‘fraction’ of what Scottish taxpayers have spent on their construction, Holyrood was told.
Twin newbuild ferries being built for CalMac’s Arran route on the Forth of Clyde could be worth only a ‘fraction’ of what Scottish taxpayers have spent on their construction, Holyrood was told. Credit: SundayPostUK-facebook

Twin newbuild ferries that are delayed and overbudget at a shipyard in Scotland and which are to serve Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) could be worth a “fraction” of the £360m taxpayers have spent on them when they are finally completed, MSPs have been told.

Speaking on the newbuilds to operate on the west coast, Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton had raised concerns as Wellbeing Economy Secretary, Neil Gray updated the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood on the works carried out on the dual-fuelled powered newbuilds Glen Sannox (as above) and Glen Rosa.

The twins, each 102m in length are being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow for CalMac so to bolster its ageing fleet. The new ferries (with a reduced passenger capacity of under 1,000: see story) are set to go into operation on the Ardrossan-Brodick (Isle of Arran) route on the Forth of Clyde. 

Leadship Glen Sannox and newbuild no 105, Glen Rosa which in recent months was given a name, have been beset by issues which have seen multi-year delays and cost overruns. Combined this has put the cost of construction to £360m, compared with the initial £97m price tag when the contract was signed for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine diesel fuelled ferries.

STV News has more on the shipyard saga, as the ferries which were to have entered service in 2018.

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.