A new £42million ferry for the Western Isles at the centre of a threatened bankruptcy wrangle has been legally transferred to the Scottish Government.
Control of the troubled MV Loch Seaforth has been given to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) – the government company which owns the ships which are leased out to Cal Mac.
The unfinished ferry was delayed because its builder, the Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft (FSG) yard in Germany, was on the brink of financial collapse.
The yard legally owned the Loch Seaforth and the future of the ship would have been in limbo if the business went down.
It is understood the financial crisis this summer hampered the fitting-out work and the installation of furnishings and equipment, pushing back the delivery date by months.
The ferry had been due to take on the crossing between Lewis and Ullapool by July but there is now no fixed delivery date.
A lump sum payment was made to FSG last week after a deal to accelerate the transfer of ownership into CMAL’s name.
The money is understood to be a planned staged payment timetabled for a later date but given to the yard in advance to smooth the ownership issue.
A final retention sum is owed by CMAL but “will only be paid when the vessel has completed all MCA tests and inspections.”
A spokesman said: “CMAL now has overall control of the MV Loch Seaforth and she will not be impacted by negotiations over the future acquisition of FSG.
“Work continues in the yard on final fitting out and preparation of systems for handover to Cal Mac Ferries.
“The ship will be sailing to Scotland in the next few weeks.”
Siem Industries, of the Cayman Islands, has stepped in to buy out the yard business. The deal has yet to be completed but all parties are confident it will proceed.