A recent drone video provides an overview of the ongoing construction of two vital ferries at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.

The Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa were originally due to be in service in 2018 at a total price of £97m. The cost for completing the Glen Sannox has risen to £130m and for the Glen Rosa it has increased to £110m.

But today, we’re just looking at their material state. They seem to be looking the part now, at least externally.

MV Glen Sannox

The MV Glen Sannox, moored upon the Clyde, bears the semblance of readiness, with her exterior suggesting near completion. However, her outward readiness belies the extensive internal work that remains, particularly in the wake of a failed safety audit by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in September 2023.

The MCA’s insistence on additional staircases for safety certification precipitated a delay, pushing the sea trials of Glen Sannox to the first quarter of 2024 and casting doubt on her readiness for the forthcoming summer season.

Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray has articulated the MCA’s integral role in the early phases of vessel delivery, particularly for those of pioneering design. The process of certification has been one of partnership and refinement, with the MCA’s input leading to vital design modifications that, whilst introducing delays and additional costs, are essential for the vessel’s safety and compliance.

The result of these modifications has been a reduction in passenger capacity from the initial 1,000 to 852, a necessary concession to meet the MCA’s stringent safety standards. In March 2023, it was reported that further delays have pushed the vessel’s entry into service to Autumn of 2023; in August 2023, a further delay to the first quarter of 2024 was announced.

MV Glen Rosa

The sister ship, MV Glen Rosa, shares a similar story. It will also undergo design modifications following the Glen Sannox template to meet MCA standards. Her exterior, while looking close to completion with the main hull and superstructure in place, is yet to be finalised, as indicated by the extensive scaffolding that envelopes her.

The ferry’s external aspects, from the paintwork to the installation of safety equipment, are in the midst of being completed, but her readiness for service is still some way off.

Internally, there remains a substantial amount of fit-out and systems installation to be done before she can be deemed ready for operational duties. This includes the intricate fitting of dual Wärtsilä 34DF diesel engines, controllable pitch propellers, and the trio of bow thrusters that will eventually enable her to reach service speeds of 14.5 knots.

The Glen Rosa, her name chosen by public vote and embroiled in what’s been dubbed the “ferry fiasco,” reflects the complexities and heightened scrutiny of modern shipbuilding.

With her finished tonnage at 1,273 DWT and a length of over 100 meters, she’s set to be a significant vessel within the CalMac fleet, intended to carry 1,000 passengers and 127 cars or 16 HGVs, though currently licensed for 852 passengers.

The vessel’s recent milestones includes the completion of design issues involving below-deck escape trunks and the announcement of a slipway launch and naming ceremony set for March 12, 2024. The expected delivery date for Glen Rosa is May 31, 2025, with an estimated cost of £100 million.

Looking Ahead

The future of Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Ltd is under careful consideration, with plans to refine investment proposals while adhering to subsidy control rules and demonstrating value for money. The Scottish Government say it is committed to a sustainable future for the shipyard, balancing the interests of the workforce, local communities, and the broader Scottish economy.

David Tydeman, CEO of Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow, expressed his hope to secure substantial work from the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Frigate programme, potentially utilising over half the yard’s capacity. Despite the uncertainties surrounding the future of the shipyard, Tydeman was confident about Royal Navy work supporting the yard during a recent Public Audit Committee meeting.

“We have been planning for some time,” he said, “and I am delighted that we were able to sign a framework agreement with BAE Systems.”

According to Tydeman, the agreement with BAE Systems would help address the workforce surplus at the Ferguson Marine yard as work on two ferries progressively winds down over the next 12 to 18 months. He further added, “Both those yards (BAE and Babcock) have more work than they can do on their sites—as I said, this is a buoyant time in the shipbuilding market—and they need supporting contractors.”

Ferguson Marine started work on the first sections for a Type 26 Frigate earlier this year.

In terms of scale, Tydeman compared the additional, potential future work from the Type 26 programme to ongoing projects at Ferguson. “Hull 802 will be about 3,000 tonnes of weight when she launches down the slipway later this year, and a bow block unit for type 26 ship 4—which we hope to do with BAE—will be about 900 tonnes,” he stated. Elaborating on this, he said “A programme of work with BAE can use more than half the capacity of the yard, and I hope that we can complement that with the CMAL small ferry programme.”

Additionally, he mentioned that the company is actively tracking opportunities in the market. “We have a small commercial team that is tracking the market and we have been putting in proposals to the patrol craft market,” Tydeman disclosed.

There are also ongoing discussions with operators in the wind farm market, providing potential long-term work. “The first of those ships could be built in 2027. That does not fill the immediate gap, but…that is a very significant opportunity for us in the future.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago

George you and your drone are a simply superb way of representing real progress in real time. No company blurbs, no Politician guilding the Lilly or some ill in formed Journalist using completely inappropriate stock photos. They paint a thousand words of facts. Thank You ! That was the buttering up bit, any chance of Scotstoun and HMS Glasgow next ? As for the Ferry’s I genuinely hope they pass their inspection, enter service and are a success. The Islands really need them and more besides ! Its cost a fortune to get them there, been a massive embarrassment but… Read more »

Brom
Brom
1 month ago

hi George will you be making your way to Turkey to check out the new ferries there too?

oh and damn the British government for not giving enough work to Scottish shipyards 😇

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Brom

I don’t think any one thinks that, few even knew Ferguson existed until it went bust.

Main thing is to keep the lines rolling at the Clyde and Rosyth and get the fleet numbers back up to 24 or more. Two yards with the odd export can keep that going over a 25 year life cycle, let Northern Ireland do the large RFA vesells and amphibious ships and English yards can focus on submarines. The Clyde, rosyth , barrow and Belfast can form a triangle sharing blocks and staff fairly easily given their proximity.

Louis
Louis
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The Tyne would like a word…
H&W seems to be making lots of work for itself, unlike the rest of these yards that rely on the government. Whether they succeed is yet to be seen of course.

Last edited 1 month ago by Louis
ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

Three FSS all funded by the U.K. Government backed up with £77million investment for Belfast and £15.6milliion Appledore.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

Would be great to see something on the Tyne however I fear yards have been closed too long too many skills have been lost. It’s also worth pointing out that most East Coast yards are heavily involved in North Sea decommissioning as well as renewable deployment.

I think our budget if used wisely can sustain three surface and one sub surface yard and that what we should focus on with smaller yards like AP Tyne and Ferguson chipping in for block builds.

Louis
Louis
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

A&P Tyne is quite big and has space to expand. Blocks for HMS Belfast are being built there. There is space for a medium sized ship shipyard (Cammell Laird). MROSS 2 and the 4 MCM motherships are coming up. After that HMS Protector and the 2 other RRS ships would be replaced, all the way round to replacing RRS David Attenborough, Proteus and Stirling Castle. Add in the two large Serco ships and that’s 13. Plenty of other British companies with medium sized ships like this which could be incentivised to buy. H&W seems to be making lots of work… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes. At the end of the day the staff and craftspeople are not to blame for the problems. New ferries will be required elsewhere. The Navy needs an accelerated building programme. The yard has a future.

Thanks George.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

Really shows just how small the yard is, god knows how the SNP government ever thought they were going to build enough ferries to replace what was needed in Scotland even if they hit no snags.

Probably better if they focus on warship building sections supporting BAE on the Clyde.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Good Afternoon Jim. I agree it’s very cramped and I think the Scottish Government lacked vision and made a decision in hurry. The great tragedy is that right next that yard is the Inchgreen site and it’s going begging (check Google Earth). As for sustaining 3 surface Yards and 1 sub, I agree but we presently have 4 and 1. IMHO if the size of the surface fleet doesn’t increase I just can’t see Rosyth surviving as a shipbuilder. But there is more to Government funded shipbuilding opportunities than just Warships and RFA. There will be plenty of other smaller… Read more »

Martin
Martin
1 month ago

And how is this defence news?

Brom
Brom
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

stuft, these can be used in time of conflict IE Falklands

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Brom

Nice try i’d not wanna sail in them, sea is a bit rough down there, would not hold out hope of ever seeing them serve the nation. And hope they never have to as that means things are bad.

Brom
Brom
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

nice try? what do you mean?

Also I don’t know if you’ve ever been in Scottish waters but the sea is not exactly Mediterranean there either

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Brom

i have , well lets hope they are never needed, that’s if they ever get finished. What are their names Freedom and Independence? i forgot

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  George Allison

relax, i just do see on here a faint obsession with Scottish ship building. They are two over priced ferries with nice stairs. Not big defence news really. That was my point.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

This is shipyard that can and probably will be building parts for navy ships.
If you don’t like the story no one is forcing to read it or comment.
Personally I enjoy reading lots and if I find one I’m not interested in I don’t read it.

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Chill out , put the dummy back in . And yes the yard has submitted work for the navy via BAE, i just find a lot on here about ship building in Scotland, Navy ship numbers numbers in Scottish waters etc. I was merely wondering why.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Well the answer is in the title “UK Defence Journal” And as every single RN surface warship launched built this century is built or assembled in Scotland.
So if Scottish built ships weren’t mentioned it would be ever so slightly dull. 🤔

The ongoing saga of these vessels does have a very useful purpose, it’s a moral story of how not to build ships.
It adds a point of reference and adds context to comparatively minor issues elsewhere in U.K. shipbuilding.
And it makes MOD procurement look positively efficient.🤩

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Interesting point, All UK war ships built this century. And sadly not many of them.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Why not supply your own journalistic pieces for publication on topics you would like to see posted and discussed on the website?

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

That’s not my job, i do not run a defence news web site. Do you?

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  George Allison

Every work in ship building?, i’ve sailed in a few ships never helped make one

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  George Allison

The UK Defence Journal has a high reputation George that is entirely due to you. It is much appreciated. For some people going down to the local rec and shouting at pigeons will never be enough.

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry Larking
Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

“Put the dummy back in” not a great response to someone’s reply to you!

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Thank you, any thing else?

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

Not at the moment, but the grown ups in the room will keep an eye out, thanks!

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Grown ups, WO’s and Sgts Mess saying. Not heard that in few years.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

👍

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

👍

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
1 month ago

These ferries are strategically important because the cohesion of the UK is rather important. Putin is unlikely to occupy Harris… well, who knows? … but ignore the edges and the centre falls apart. And if they can cope with the Western Isles seas they can probably cope anywhere!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Wyn they go to Arran which is nowhere near the Western Isles, it’s 12 miles each way and inside the Firth of Clyde.
As for strategically important for the cohesion of the UK, I completely agree. The whole country needed a good laugh 🤣

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
1 month ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Ooops – I knew I should have checked the map. Mea culpa. I dare say the Firth of Clyde gets a tad choppy though. More seriously I do think that London-centric English do need to understand how important keeping the far flung isles of the British archipelago feeling they are part of the whole is. Being Welsh I’m am very aware of how easily English numerical dominance (and in particular SE England, as one living in the West Midlands) can skew the whole self understanding of the nation and cause waves of anti Union feeling, shall we say. And don’t… Read more »

Ken
Ken
1 month ago

Don’t they submit the plans for the shi before construction? Shouldn’t they know if they have enough staircases etc beforehand?

Martin
Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

Are they making them up as they go along?

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

Unfortunately the plans came after they won the contract which was fixed by the SNP government. Very much a lesson in how not to do it.

That being said rescuing a commercial ship yards is not easy and you have to give the SNP some credit for at-least trying, too many other British governments have just been willing to let yards close even when there was alternatives.

Fen Tiger
Fen Tiger
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Not a Shipyard but, Prestwick is making a profit! (at last).

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Fen Tiger

Yes but not for a particularly good reason 🥴

James Cant
James Cant
1 month ago

I wonder if Harland &Wolff can pick up some defence work at their fabrication and docks at Methil in Fife , deep water and close to Rosyth . They’ve been building barges recently .

CGH
CGH
1 month ago

Controllable Pitch Propellers enable a ship to go backwards & Bow Thrusters enable a ship to edge sideways to help Dock, they’ll not do anything to help the ferries reach 14.5 knots. Nice drone shots, but my information is that there’ll be further delays & more money needed. This project has been a complete disaster. There were five tenders given & Ferguson’s was the highest. Ferguson was given the work at the insistence of the SNP for political reasons. In the same way that a Camel is a Horse designed by committee, the SNP interfered with the design. Combined with… Read more »