I visited Port Glasgow and I decided to use my drone to take a look at the controversial ferries being built at the Ferguson Marine yard in the town.
The following is just a bit of background on the ships themselves and what’s happening with them. The politics of the issue isn’t my concern, you can read about that side of the controversy elsewhere.
The first ship, MV Glen Sannox, was initially expected to enter service in summer 2018. The Glen Sannox was launched in November 2017 but the vessel’s bulbous bow was not fit for purpose at the time of the launch, and only fitted to be able to claim “milestone payments”.
It was also widely reported that the bridge windows were painted on and that the funnels were not operational and just placed on for the launch. In 2020, the ship was towed to Greenock for remedial work including the replacement of the bulbous bow. Delivery is now May 2023.
The second ship is ‘Hull 802’. Hull 802 was to be launched in 2018 and to enter service the following year. In December 2019, estimates suggested that the ship would be delivered to CMAL in summer 2022. That will not happen.
Delays were caused due to the pandemic and shortages of skilled labour. Last year, the delivery of Hull 802 was rescheduled for July 2023. Later, further delays saw the delivery date slip once more to its current October–December 2023.
Together, the two ferries will be around five years late and cost at least £240 million – two and half times the original price. That being said, progress is now being made (especially on Hull 802) and the project appears to be back on track.
You can read about the recent progress on Hull 802 directly from Ferguson Marine by clicking here.
Here’s a compilation of every bit of video footage I captured, enjoy!
What’s happened recently?
Ferguson shipyard, which had hoped to take part in the build of new frigates but was unable to due to issues during the build of two ferries, recently announced a further delay to the ferries.
It is understood that anywhere between 400 and 900 cables are to be stripped out on ‘Hull 801’ and ‘Hull 802’, some more than 100 metres long.
Why did I mention frigates?
Then Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited the Ferguson Marine shipyard at Port Glasgow in 2017 where he remarked upon the opportunity for the Clyde yard to build the new frigates. Babcock, Thales, BMT, Harland & Wolff and Ferguson Marine had teamed up to form ‘Team 31’ a consortium to bid for the Type 31 Frigate.
Babcock CEO Archie Bethel said:
“Team 31 will allow Babcock and Thales to take forward the key lessons from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and apply them in a new and highly capable team with Harland & Wolff, BMT and Ferguson Marine.”
While Babcock eventually won the bid, Ferguson Marine was no longer able to recieve any work due to issues at the yard. After Harland & Wolff and Ferguson Marine both collapsed into administration, Bethel told the Financial Times that both yards would still “get a chance to bid” but the company “would not risk the programme” subcontracting work out to them.
Mr Bethel later pointed out that Babcock had the capacity to do the work itself at Rosyth, meaning it didn’t have to rely on other yards and said that Babcock had won the bid on the basis of the work being done “100 per cent at Rosyth”, adding that with the exception of France’s Thales, “none of our members were risk-sharing”. He also said that the yards would be welcome to bid again should the issues be sorted and they “pass the same hurdles that any suppliers have to pass in terms of financial security and security of supply. Assuming that [any] new owners can do that, they will be included in the process.”
In short, issues at the Ferguson Marine yard with the ferries meant they could no longer take part in the Type 31 frigate programme alongside Babcock with the frigate now being built entirely at Rosyth. The delay to the ferries has cost the Port Glasgow shipyard work on new frigates.