In September 2014, Ferguson Shipbuilders, then in administration, was bought by Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers Capital. The business, renamed Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, rehired some of the 70 employees who had been made redundant.
The shipyard then secured a new £12 million contract with Scottish state-controlled ferry company Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL) to build a new diesel-electric hybrid ferry for operator CalMac. The Ferguson yard had previously built two other hybrid ferries for CalMac – the MV Hallaig (below) and MV Lochinvar.
In October this year, a £97 million contract for Ferguson Marine Engineering of Port Glasgow to build two 100-metre long ferries for the government’s Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) was signed.
Mr McColl says the hybrid ferries have been criticised for their far higher cost, but there is increasing demand for less polluting shipping as the European Union tightens curbs on sulphur emissions. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added, “This new vessel will be fuel efficient and have lower maintenance costs, whilst ensuring a quality service for passengers . . . Scotland remains at the forefront of ferry design and innovation.”
Mr McColl is hopeful of winning a bigger prize, with a CMAL tender for two 100m ferries to be decided in the next few months, but for a company only recently out of administration, collateralising the bond required for a new vessel is “quite penal”; he says: “I have mentioned it to both the Scottish government and the UK government and everybody’s very willing and keen to make sure that something’s put in place but meanwhile life is going on:
“If you’re focused on building up your engineering and your manufacturing sector . . . you have to put in place the kind of support that the Germans and the Poles and the Turks have got for their industrial base.”