This is a story we have been hearing repeatedly for some six years, during which the cost of the Glen Sannox and the unnamed hull 802 has more than tripled. The real shocking news would be an announcement that they had actually been finished, although that may require the suspension of public disbelief until they are actually carrying passengers, given the Glen Sannox was launched – incomplete, with fake windows – in 2017 by none other than Nicola Sturgeon.
According to the last update, it had been due to enter service in May, but this has now been pushed back to the autumn after the discovery of “design gaps and build errors”, some apparently dating back several years. Hull 802 was expected to start sailing in March next year, but its revised target date is now late summer 2024. Ferguson Marine asked the Scottish Government to extend their “no later than” delivery dates “to ensure our contracts remain valid”.
We’re somewhat surprised to learn there was such strong language in the contracts as “no later than”, but not even slightly taken aback to discover that this, apparently, means little. The situation is a complete joke, but one with serious consequences for islanders in need of decent ferry services and the once-great reputation of shipbuilding on the Clyde. And there’s nothing funny about any of that.