Ferries and Fuel – Scotsman Article – 30 December 2021


We’ve started so we’ll finish seems to be the maxim for the SNP Government with regard to the ships languishing in the Ferguson Yard on the Clyde, yet badly required in island communities. And while a rush for an announcement to herald what was viewed as a political triumph in 2015 lies at the root of what went wrong, there seems little urgency to provide the necessary infrastructure to supply the ships when they ever sail.  

A cursory glance at a timeline for the fiasco shows that contracts were rushed, doubts in CMAL overridden and the seeds for future conflict between shipyard and procuring authority were laid. But sadly recent correspondence I’ve received from the Scottish Government shows that as 2022 approaches the travails rest not just with the ships still to be completed but the facilities to fuel them even when they operate. 

You’d have thought that with construction being delayed everything else would at least be good to go. But not so. Asking the Scottish Government how much the LNG infrastructure for the duel fuel ships would cost and when it would be completed, I received an astonishing answer. They simply don’t know and won’t be able to say until they’ve completed their investigations into just what infrastructure’s required in the first place.   

Now you might have thought that when embarking on building a ship with a fuel system complex in its design and requiring port facilities to be constructed you’d resolve this afore you begin. But apparently not.  

This discloses that the besmirching of the past management and the current workforce at Fergusons is shameful. Blame rests with those that rushed for a political announcement and whose agencies chose this crazy fuel system. Not those having to struggle to work out how to build it, never mind supply it.  

Similarly, suggestions that LNG’s environmentally friendly are shown to be absurd when the only site for it is and will remain on the Isle of Grain, down on the Thames. Transhipping or trunkering it, negates any very limited benefit that might have existed. 

What a shambles.