The first of the new ferries set to take over the Arran route is set to hit a major milestone as it begins its first round of sea trials.

The Port Glasgow yard’s chief executive David Tydeman today confirmed to our sister paper The Greenock Telegraph that MV Glen Sannox will make her first trip under her own propulsion in the middle of the month, ahead of her long-awaited delivery to CalMac, which is scheduled for March.

Glen Sannox and her sister vessel Hull 802, now named MV Glen Rosa, which will also be used on the Arran route, were due to be ready by 2018.

By the time they are both delivered the final cost could be more than quadruple the original £97m contract which was awarded in 2015.

The Glen Sannox will be unable to sail from Ardrossan until its harbour is upgraded. Instead, the ferry is expected to sail from Troon Harbour.

If the Clyde is calm, Glen Sannox will undergo testing at the quayside between February 7 and 12.

If it all goes well she is scheduled to make her maiden trip under her own propulsion to the quayside at Greenock’s Inchgreen Dry Dock on February 13.

The start of sea trials would bring a much-needed boost to the yard after the ferry missed an important milestone just before Christmas.

Bad weather forced bosses to call off a planned trip to Dales Marine shipyard for works, with the dry dock visit postponed until after her trials are concluded.

David Tydeman, chief executive at Ferguson Marine, said: “The first round of sea trials for MV Glen Sannox will be focused on testing the principal machinery on board.

“In preparation, as long as waters are relatively calm, some testing will take place at the yard’s quayside between 7-12 February.

“From Tuesday February 13, again if the weather is favourable, she will make her first trip under her own propulsion - but with a tug attached for safety - to the quayside at the Inchgreen dry dock in Greenock.

“Seeing MV Glen Sannox sailing under her own steam is an important milestone in the final stages of her journey to completion, and one that I am very much looking forward to.”