Delays Continue for Scottish Ferries Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa Due to LNG System Issues

Delays in delivery of two CalMac ferries in Scotland due to issues with LNG propulsion systems, raising concerns for island communities and criticism of government handling of the project.

Hadeel Hashem
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Delays Continue for Scottish Ferries Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa Due to LNG System Issues

Delays Continue for Scottish Ferries Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa Due to LNG System Issues

The delivery of two long-awaited CalMac ferries, the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa, has been further delayed due to ongoing issues with their liquefied natural gas (LNG) propulsion systems. The ferries, being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, Scotland, were originally due for delivery in 2018 but have faced numerous setbacks and cost overruns.

John Petticrew, the interim chief executive of Ferguson Marine, announced that the Glen Sannox will now be handed over to CalMac by July 31, 2024, two months later than the previously targeted May or June date. Petticrew attributed the delay to the complexity and difficulty of installing the LNG system, a first for UK shipbuilding. "The installation and commissioning of the LNG system remains particularly challenging," he said, noting the lack of available expert knowledge and qualified resources in the UK.

The Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa were designed with dual-fuel LNG propulsion systems in 2014, a decision made for perceived environmental benefits. However, the green credentials of LNG have since been questioned due to concerns about its greenhouse gas emissions and logistical challenges. The LNG refueling process is slow and requires the construction of dedicated fast refueling stations, which has been delayed due to the stalled redevelopment of Ardrossan harbour.

Why this matters: The ongoing delays in the delivery of the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa have significant implications for Scotland's island communities, which rely heavily on the aging CalMac ferry fleet. The cost overruns and missed deadlines have also drawn criticism from opposition parties, who criticized the Scottish government of mismanagement and incompetence in handling the ferry project.

Despite the setbacks, Ferguson Marine remains confident that the Glen Rosa can be delivered by September 2025 at a cost not exceeding £150 million. The total cost of the two ferries has tripled from the original £97 million price tag, with over £400 million of taxpayer money invested in the Ferguson shipyard. The Scottish government has expressed disappointment in the delays, emphasizing the importance of the ferries entering service as soon as possible to support island communities and businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Delivery of 2 CalMac ferries delayed due to LNG propulsion issues
  • Glen Sannox now due July 2024, 2 months later than previous target
  • LNG system installation remains challenging, lacking UK expertise
  • Delays impact Scotland's island communities, draw criticism of mismanagement
  • Total ferry cost tripled to over £400M, with Sept 2025 target for Glen Rosa