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Further delays push back delivery of new ferries

The two ferries are being built for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network at a cost of £97m.

Glen Sannox: Delivery delayed until 2019.
Glen Sannox: Delivery delayed until 2019. PA

Ferries being built on the Clyde have been hit by further delays, the transport minister has confirmed.

Michael Matheson said the latest postponement, to next summer, is "disappointing".

The two ships for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network are being built at Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd at Port Glasgow.

The first ferry, the MV Glen Sannox, which was launched in 2017, was initially due to be delivered in May, later pushed back to this winter.

Now, the delivery date for the ship is summer 2019.

The SNP MSP has claimed it is expected to be delivered in June and enter service on the Ardrossan-Arran route around two months later after sea trials.

The second ferry is expected to be complete the following spring.

Mr Matheson said: "Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd has advised us that the first vessel, the MV Glen Sannox, will now be delivered during summer 2019, and the second vessel in spring 2020.

"While this further delay is disappointing, it is important to focus on the fact that we will have two new ships joining the fleet serving the Clyde and Hebrides network that have been built in Scotland, providing vital support to our ship building industry."

Opposition politicians have criticised the latest delay on the £97m contract for the dual-fuel diesel and liquified natural gas ferries.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: "Far from disappointing, this is a complete shambles.

"Numerous stakeholders have long been warning about a catalogue of issues with the build of the new ferries.

"Only recently the Scottish Government had to bail out Ferguson Marine with substantial money.

"This is another entry in a catalogue of failures on Scotland's ferry networks, once again letting island communities down and impacting tourism, businesses and connectivity."

His Liberal Democrat counterpart Mike Rumbles added: "Passengers on the west coast will have a sinking feeling once again when they find out these ferries are delayed."

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