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Tories make free call for ferries public inquiry five years after ‘launch’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke at the launch of the Glen Sannox five years ago – but the vessel has still not entered service (Andrew Milligan/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke at the launch of the Glen Sannox five years ago – but the vessel has still not entered service (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scottish Conservatives have repeated calls for a public inquiry to be held into the CalMac ferries “fiasco”, making the plea five years after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “launched” one of the vessels.

Ms Sturgeon was at the launch ceremony for the Glen Sannox ferry on November 21 2017, and at the time praised “state-of-the-art ferries” being built at the Ferguson Marine yard on the Clyde.

However neither the Glen Sannox, or the other ferry being built for Caledonian MacBrayne, the as yet unnamed Hull 802, have entered service, with the construction of the two vessels running over time and over budget.

The two ferries are currently due to be delivered in 2023 and early 2024, at a potential cost of more than £300 million, three times the initial £97 million contract.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The five-year anniversary of a ferry launch should be a cause for celebration, but that will not be happening today.

“If the SNP had not botched this process at every single turn, then islanders could have enjoyed years of seamless travel by now.

“Instead, they have had to endure years of delays which has had a crippling effect on our island communities and they have little confidence that this nightmare will end anytime soon.”

He accused senior figures in the NSP of trying to “pass the blame” for the delays instead of “taking responsibility for their monumental failures”.

Mr Simpson added: “That is why we urgently need a public inquiry to get to the truth of this fiasco once and for all.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government’s priorities have always been the completion of the two ferries, securing a future for the yard and its workforce, and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel on a daily basis.

“We deeply regret that the vessels are taking longer and costing more than they should. 

“We continue to urge Ferguson Marine to do all it can to bring down costs and meet the agreed delivery schedule.”