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Ferguson Marine shipyard boss sacked amid further delays to overdue ferry

It is understood that David Tydeman recently said another delay to the delivery of the Glen Sannox was ‘likely’ (PA)
It is understood that David Tydeman recently said another delay to the delivery of the Glen Sannox was ‘likely’ (PA)

The chief executive of Ferguson Marine, where the two delayed and over-budget CalMac ferries are being built, has been sacked after telling ministers further delays are “likely”.

David Tydeman’s contract was terminated by the state-owned company’s board.

The Scottish Government has said any more delays are “unacceptable”.

The chairman of the Ferguson Marine board said “strong leadership” is now needed to ensure the shipyard’s future and John Petticrew – a non-executive director – has been appointed as interim chief executive.

Mr Tydeman had recently sought to highlight progress on the Glen Sannox, praising its performance in sea trials earlier this year.

But it emerged last month that costs for the Glen Sannox will rise to between £145.5 million and £149.1 million.

David Tydeman
David Tydeman has been saved as chief executive of the shipyard (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Mr Tydeman had previously indicated the ferry would be handed over to CalMac in late May, but it seems this deadline can no longer be met.

Under the latest estimates, the work to build the two ferries will be around triple the first price of £97 million and they will be handed over to the operator six years late.

Responding to news of Mr Tydeman’s sacking, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan said it is a matter for the board.

She added: “I am focused on the Scottish Government’s priorities of completing the two ferries, ensuring FMPG (Ferguson Marine Port Glasgow) drives down on costs, and securing a sustainable future for the yard and its skilled workforce.

“While the yard had previously stated that the delivery date for Glen Sannox was planned for late May, we are aware that, in the last week, the outgoing CEO intimated further delay was likely.

“That is unacceptable. I know the board are intent on doing everything they can to ensure that delay does not happen.

“I will be stressing to the new interim CEO and the board the importance of the ferries entering service to our island communities as soon as possible.”

It is understood the board had raised concerns about Mr Tydeman’s performance before his contract was terminated.

In Holyrood on Tuesday, Inverclyde SNP MSP Stuart McMillan sought to table an urgent question on the situation by forcing a vote to discount the deadline for such a question to be submitted to Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone.

The subsequent vote was defeated by 49 votes to 55, halting any chance of the question being answered by the Government.

It is not yet clear how votes were cast, but Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson told the chamber he voted no, suggesting the Scottish Government blocked the question.

Speaking in the chamber, Ms McAllan reiterated that issues relating to Mr Tydeman’s position are a matter for the Ferguson Marine board.

As well as Mr Petticrew, a number of other senior appointments were announced by the Ferguson Marine board on Tuesday.

Board chairman Andrew Miller said: “Ferguson Marine needs strong leadership to ensure its long-term future.

Energy and Transport Committee##
Ferguson Marine board chairman Andrew Miller, left, said ‘strong leadership’ is needed (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

“The board recognised that action needed to be taken to restructure the current leadership team and it has taken these steps to address this.

“Our focus is on the completion of Glen Sannox and hull 802 (Glen Rosa), and the implementation of a robust business plan to improve the commercial viability of Ferguson Marine.”

In February, Mr Miller told MSPs it would be harder to return the business to the private sector without investment in a new automated plating line – with the company seeking further finance from the Scottish Government.

The company is due to submit a new business case for this to the Government by the end of this month.

In 2022, a number of Ferguson Marine workers who took part in an informal meeting with MSPs praised Mr Tydeman’s leadership and compared him favourably to the shipyard’s previous management, saying he “talked sense”.

Mr Tydeman joined the Port Glasgow shipyard in 2022, having previously run a yacht-building company.

The GMB trade union said stability is needed at the shipyard.

Glen Rosa construction
The Glen Rosa remains under construction at the yard (PA)

Alex Logan, the union’s convener at the yard, said: “Whoever is to blame for the problems with these ferries, it is categorically not the workers.

“They are skilled, committed and have endured years of unfair criticism and ongoing uncertainty about the future of their yard.

“Given the opportunity and the right leadership, this workforce can build a far brighter future for Ferguson Marine.

“We wish the new leadership of the yard well, but they must be given every possible support from the Scottish Government to urgently build and deliver a business plan that will secure contracts, protect skills and sustain jobs.”

Responding to the news, Scottish Conservative shadow transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “It’s shocking that Glen Sannox is facing yet another delay.

“Mairi McAllan describes that as ‘unacceptable’ and appears to have sacked David Tydeman because of it.

“She must now come to Parliament to explain the extent of the latest delays and the cost implications for the taxpayer.

“SNP ministers can’t pass the buck. It’s their responsibility for these two vessels being six years late and hugely over budget.”

Edward Mountain, convener of Holyrood’s Transport Committee, said: “Following today’s announcement, the committee will hold the newly structured management team to delivering on the commitment that both the Glen Sannox and the Glen Rosa will be ships we can be proud of.

“We will continue to seek regular updates from the management team and Scottish ministers.”