CEO sacked

Ministers accused of ‘scapegoating’ fired ferries boss

David Tydeman has paid the price for delays to the Clyde-built ferries

Scottish ministers have been accused of making a scapegoat out of Ferguson Marine boss David Tydeman who has been sacked after two years in charge at the troubled Clyde shipyard.

Mr Tydeman’s contract was terminated by the shipyard, though no explanation was given for his sudden departure.

Non-executive director John Petticrew is taking over as interim chief executive. He is a Clydesider but currently lives in Canada, raising further questions about his suitability for the role, while the sacking of Mr Tydeman is expected to mean a six-figure payout in compensation for losing his £200,000+ a year salary.

Board chairman Andrew Miller said a shake-up of senior management had been required.

“Ferguson Marine needs strong leadership to ensure its long-term future,” he said. “The board recognised that action needed to be taken to restructure the current leadership team and it has taken these steps to address this.

“Our focus is on the completion of Glen Sannox and hull 802 (to be named Glen Rosa), and the implementation of a robust business plan to improve the commercial viability of Ferguson Marine.

“With this new senior management team in place and a full complement of board members, we have the breadth and depth of experience and capability to drive forward these plans.”

Mr Tydeman had recently sought to highlight progress on the first vessel, Glen Sannox, and been full of praise for its performance in sea trials.

MV Glen Sannox
Glen Sannox on sea trials

However, the cost of the two ferries is now expected to hit £400m against an initial estimate of £97m and they will be delivered six years late.

Mr Tydeman joined the Port Glasgow shipyard in February 2022 and has a career spanning four decades in shipbuilding, offshore projects, capital infrastructure, and mergers, acquisitions and turnaround operations.

His appointment at Ferguson Marine saw him return to shipbuilding on the Clyde where he began his career as a Lloyds Register surveyor at a Govan shipyard following graduation as a naval architect at Southampton University in 1976. He also has an MBA from Henley Management College.

Between 2008 and 2018, he was group chief executive at Oyster Yachts, a British designer and builder of luxury yachts. He secured around 150 contracts worth £350 million, steered the company through two periods of private equity ownership, and is credited with building a strong, globally recognised brand.

He then spent 18 months as chairman at Fairline Yachts, a British manufacturer of luxury motor yachts, and fulfilled a remit to appoint a new executive team and put the company on a path to profit. Since then, he has been providing consultancy services for several luxury yacht construction projects.

Economy Secretary Mairi McAllan said Mr Tydeman’s sacking from Ferguson Marine was a matter for the Ferguson board and that she was focusing on getting the ferries finished, driving down costs and securing a “sustainable future” for the yard and workers.

Mairi McAllan
Mairi McAllan: further delay is unacceptable (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

She said: “While the yard had previously stated that the delivery date for Glen Sannox was planned for late May, we are aware that, in the last week, the outgoing CEO intimated further delay was likely.

“That is unacceptable. I know the board are intent on doing everything they can to ensure that delay does not happen.

“I will be stressing to the new interim CEO and the board the importance of the ferries entering service to our island communities as soon as possible.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Alex Rowley commented: “This sudden overhaul raises serious questions and the public deserve transparency about what has happened.

“The skilled and dedicated workers at this yard have been badly failed by successive leaderships and by this incompetent SNP government – the new board must do right by them and secure a thriving future for the yard.

“Workers, islanders and taxpayers have all been failed throughout this fiasco – it is essential that this new leadership gets things back on track and delivers these lifeline ferries with no more delays and overruns.”

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson described Mr Tydeman as a “scapegoat” and said ministers had to explain why he had been fired.

Graham Simpson
Graham Simpson: ministers need to explain the decision to sack Mr Tydeman

“The only people not held accountable are those who are most responsible: the SNP government,” he said. “It beggars belief that not a single ministerial resignation has been offered when the buck stops with them for years of grotesque mismanagement of Scotland’s ferry network.

“While they try to pass the buck with another round of boardroom hiring and firing, our betrayed island communities continue to wait for the lifeline vessels they were promised years ago to finally be delivered.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said: “It looks like David Tydeman was sacked by the SNP for telling uncomfortable truths. We know that he was being upfront about further costs and delays, but it seems the Scottish Government didn’t like that and decided to shoot the messenger. Is he a scapegoat for SNP failures?

“I also understand that the new chief executive lives in Canada, so the Cabinet Secretary must explain how that will work.

“We need an urgent statement to the Scottish Parliament.

“Despite all the disruption at Ferguson Marine, lifelines ferries have never arrived, and islanders are just expected to suck it up. It’s time for the government to stop the scapegoating, explain what is going on at the yard and accept some accountability itself.”

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