Jim McColl Reveals Shipyard Ambitions

22 July 2015, 12:39 | Updated: 22 July 2015, 12:46

Billionaire Jim McColl has said he hopes to build ocean-going commercial ships and military vessels to rival BAE at his shipyard on the Clyde.

The entrepreneur saved Port Glasgow-based Ferguson Marine from bankruptcy last year and set out plans to expand the business.

He has now revealed that his upgrades have increased the maximum size of vessels it can build at the yard by a third to 150 metres.

Mr McColl has also looked at taking on the 1,000-metre Inchgreen dock in Greenock, one of the largest ports in Europe which has been put up for lease by owner Peel Ports.

In an interview with The Herald, Mr McColl said: "We are investing quite a bit in Ferguson to up our capacity. We are getting in the position to build four ships a year, six at a push.

"With the modifications we are making, we could make a vessel of 150 metres, even slightly bigger. That is the size of a ferry that would go from, say, Edinburgh to Zeebrugge, an ocean-going ship.''

He added: "We would be looking to expand if we could. Govan would have been a good site to look at, if the yard had been vacant.

"We have looked at Inchgreen, the dry dock. It is a fantastic, fabulous facility, one of the biggest in Europe.''

BAE recently announced that it would keep its yard at Govan, which is used for the construction of military vessels.

Mr McColl said: "The British government will want to keep buying military ships in the UK.

"With what we are doing, we could start getting in to military ships. A bit of competition would not be bad for BAE Systems.''