HUMZA Yousaf has been accused of trying to “dress up” an announcement hailing six new ferries for Scotland’s island communities – when it was revealed the vessels had already been announced.

In a speech outlining his new government’s priorities, the First Minister said “six new major vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network” would be built.

But Transport Scotland confirmed to The National this referred to the two delayed and overbudget vessels under construction at Fergusons in Port Glasgow and the four which are being built in Turkey.

The Alba Party condemned Yousaf for highlighting “hundreds of millions of pounds of lucrative contracts they’ve already sent overseas”.

The Scottish Government’s decision to have four new boats built abroad sparked fury when announced – with opponents accusing the SNP of having mismanaged the country’s shipbuilding sector to the extent the nationalised Fergusons yard “didn't even bid” for the contracts.

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Chris McEleny, Alba’s general secretary, told The National it was “simply not good enough” only two new ferries would be built in Scotland under the current order book.

He said: “The Scottish Government have announced that there will be six new ferries built by 2026.

The National:

“However, when you scratch beneath the surface of this announcement, four of these ferries are already being built in Turkey and the other two are sitting in Fergusons. 

“It’s simply not good enough for the Scottish Government to dress up a statement as something new when the reality is that they’re simply highlighting hundreds of millions of pounds of lucrative contracts they’ve already sent overseas. 

"The renewal of the entire CalMac fleet should be directly awarded to Fergusons, with Inchgreen Dry Dock brought into public ownership, to support the creating a pipeline of jobs and secure work.

“The Scottish Government have the choice of creating a thousand quality jobs on the Clyde or supporting shipbuilding jobs overseas. It is clear which choice the Scottish people expect them to make.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government has invested more than £2 billion in our ferry services since 2007 and we have outlined plans to invest around £700 million in a five year plan to improve ferry infrastructure.

"Since May 2021, we have bought and deployed an additional vessel in MV Loch Frisa in June, chartered the MV Arrow and MV Alfred, commissioned two new vessels for Islay, progressed investment in essential harbour infrastructure, and now we are delivering a further two new Islay-class vessels.

“We share the desires of island communities for effective ferry services and will continue our constructive engagement with them on future services and vessel replacements.”