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THE Scottish government agency that owns the ferries serving the west coast says that company bosses were to blame for delays and spiralling costs for two new CalMac ferries being built at Ferguson Marine shipyard.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) CEO Kevin Hobbs said yesterday that shipyard bosses were “fairly and squarely” to blame for failings which have led to increased costs for the public-sector project.
CMAL is a wholly owned public corporation of the Scottish government. It owns 36 ferries, of which 33 are operated by Calmac Ferries on west-coast routes.
Speaking to BBC Scotland, Mr Hobbs rejected calls for orders of two new CalMac island ferries to be scrapped and restarted following the collapse of the shipyard last summer.
The site was taken into public ownership in July, owing almost £50 million to the Scottish government.
Mr Hobbs, who was responsible for the procurement process, said that extensive design changes “simply did not happen” and that Ferguson bosses started work on the ferries before design was complete.
He said: “Very simply, the design was still going on when the steel cutting was happening and effectively the shipyard was designing the vessel and building the vessel at risk, and that was a fundamental flaw.”
The vessels, which are to serve Arran and the Hebrides, were initially priced at £97m when the contract was won, but Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has estimated the final cost could now be as much as £200m, with one vessel not in use until 2022.
The claims are the latest in a war of words over the Inverclyde site.
The former chairman of the shipyard, Jim McColl, had previously blamed CMAL for the fiasco and said in November he believed the project should be scrapped.
Mr Hobbs has said that workers at the site are capable of delivering the project, calling for it to continue.
The Morning Star understands that the Unite union is aware of the dispute and is monitoring the situation.
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