The troubled Ferguson Marine shipyard near Glasgow is in negotiations to build Offshore Patrol Vessels for Bangladesh.
The Sunday Mail reported that the yard has held preliminary talks with a number of prospective international clients for future work – including for military ships.
A spokeswoman said:
“We are involved in discussions with multiple potential customers, both domestic and international, for contracts covering a range of vessel types including ferries, offshore patrol vessels and offshore wind farm service vessels.
We are actively pursuing the next vessel order but all discussions are commercially sensitive. Details of any secured contract will be announced when the time is right.”
What’s going on at the yard, why did we call it “troubled”?
Ferguson shipyard, which had hoped to take part in the build of new Type 31 frigates but was unable to due to issues during the build of two ferries, recently announcing a further delay to the ferries that are already many years behind schedule.
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.
MV Glen Sannox (referred to as Hull 801) and the unnamed Hull 802 were supposed to be in service 2018 and 2019 respectively but are both are now hoped to enter service around 2023.
In update from Ferguson Marine on hulls 801 and 802, Tim Hair said:
“I regret to advise you that a problem has recently emerged with the build of 801 which I thought I should immediately bring to your attention.
Each of the ferries under construction at Ferguson relies on a complex network of cables, requiring the installation of over 9800 individual cables with a total length of 243km. Approximately 15% of these (Legacy Cables) were installed on 801 under the control of Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) prior to its Administration in August 2019. None of the Legacy Cables were installed after the Scottish Government took control of the yard.
It has recently emerged that a large proportion of the Legacy Cables have not been installed in line with the engineering information held by FMEL, leaving the free ends too short connect them to the equipment.”
“The legacy cables are predominantly in the machinery spaces and either supply equipment required to commission the vessel, or they run in cable trays which will also support new cables. Commissioning and further cable installation cannot take place until the legacy cables are corrected, delaying the overall project to deliver 801. There will inevitably be knock-on effects that will delay the schedule for 802. At present it is not possible to determine the impact on schedule and cost.”
Type 31 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.