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Photo by Angus Stewart via Facebook

As the MV Glen Rosa splashed into the Clyde yesterday (Tue, April 9), many witnessing the launch wondered if it was the last Clyde-built ship to trundle down a slipway.

Fittingly perhaps, there was a short delay due to strong winds, a metaphor for the woes haunting CalMac and the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.

Eventually, the Clyde River pilot on board one of the waiting tugs decided it was safe to proceed with the launch. Ferguson Marine welder Beth Atkinson smashed a bottle of whisky against the hull to finally send the MV Glen Rosa on its long-awaited departure. (Launch photos here)

Meanwhile controversy swirls around CalMac like the whirlpool at Corryvreckan – today (Wednesday April 10) Councillor Uisdean Robertson, who chairs Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called on Caledonian Macbrayne to involve island communities in the decision making process to appoint their new Chief Executive Officer. The Caledonian Macbrayne Ltd. (CalMac) Board announced in a statement last week that current CEO Robbie Drummond would be replaced in his role.

Councillor Robertson, said: “It is vital that island communities are placed at the heart of the decision making process to appoint a new Chief Executive. I would encourage CalMac to include a representative from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and equivalent representatives from other islands on the decision making panel, this will help ensure that decisions are taken with the best interests of the islands in mind. It is important that CalMac also offers applicants the option to work remotely from an island base to ensure that those living in islands have an opportunity to apply to the role.”

And with the Turkish yard building its two Islay ferries on time and budget, there are lingering doubts about the publicly-owned Port Glasgow shipyard.

Scottish Government Minister Mairi McAllan, who attended the launch, did not allay these concerns. While saying she had confidence in the yard’s future, the former Transport Minister qualified that by saying she had “not unmitigated confidence.”

The Scottish Government is to review the business case for new investment in the nationalised yard in a bid to make it more competitive.

This point was conceded by Ferguson Marine’s interim chief executive, John Petticrew, who took over the position following the sacking of David Tydeman. He admitted the yard had to be more competitive to win new work.

But he added that there had been interest” from a handful of “significant shipping companies”, so he was hopeful of Ferguson Marine’s fortunes turning around despite their last two builds massively overshooting its budget and deadlines.

The MV Glen Rosa will have a capacity to carry up to 852 passengers plus 127 cars, or 16 heavy goods vehicles, or a combination of both.

When the ferry finally enters service next year, it will be six years behind schedule and, along with MV Glen Sannox, more than three times over the original budget.