Ferry operator CalMac has run up a £1.6million bill for crewing costs for the Glen Sannox ferry which is still being built at Ferguson shipyard.

CalMac began hiring officers and engineers in February 2022 - six months ahead of expected delivery of the ship.

But the following month the delivery date was put back to May 2023, and it has since slipped again to the autumn.

CalMac has hired 14 staff to date, including three masters, and is asking the government to cover the cost.

These staff are currently working on other CalMac vessels.

While it is usual for a ferry operator to start recruiting staff ahead of delivery of a new ship, the BBC understands the shipyard is puzzled as to why recruitment went ahead in February 2022 as it says discussions were already taking place about further delays in construction.

Freedom of information

The ferry operator, which is wholly owned by the Scottish Government, confirmed details of the crewing for Glen Sannox in response to a freedom of information request by Conservative MSP Edward Mountain.

CalMac said the crew appointments were all approved by the yard to align with expected vessel delivery date.

By March this year it had taken on three masters, three chief engineers, three second engineers and five third engineers. Most of them have been employed since February last year.

The £1.6million in crew costs includes salary, travel, subsistence, pension and national insurance contributions but excludes training.

Mr Mountain told the BBC: "I think it is ridiculous that CalMac recruited staff so far in advance of the ship being delivered.

"If they honestly believed when they recruited them that these ships were only six months away from delivery, they must be living in a different universe."

Seeking reimbursement

CalMac said the recruitment had taken place to support the ongoing construction work at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard, and as such, it would be seeking reimbursement from the shipyard's owner.

The new Transport Minister Kevin Stewart has said he will look into the matter.

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