Around £3.5million has been spent on wages for the crew of Arran's new ferry despite it not carrying a passenger yet, it has been claimed.

A national newspaper revealed this week that 14 staff members had been hired to work on the vessel, starting two years ago when bosses believed it was just six months from completion.

The total wage bill includes three captains and 11 engineers while a further five officers were taken on last year. 

Ferry operators CalMac said the new employees played "a critical part in getting vessels ready to enter service".

But opposition MPs hit out at the "waste of public cash".

Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson said: “CalMac must have crew ready for these vessels. The problem, of course, is that they have taken so long to build.

“CalMac were doing the right thing but they have been let down, as have our islanders, by this whole fiasco.

"It is just another example of how money has been wasted during this flawed project.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Alex Rowley said: “The SNP’s woeful mismanagement of this ferry project has left islanders stranded and taxpayers picking up the tab.

“There must be no more delays or added costs to the delivery of these lifeline ferries.”

And Scottish Lib Dem economy spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP said: “Yet more money wasted on these dreaded ferries.

"We know there were discussions about possible construction delays when CalMac decided to employ the crew members, which makes it particularly troubling that they pushed ahead with recruitment regardless.

“Bills, delays and disruptions are all islanders and taxpayers have ever known from these ferries. As one of his first acts, John Swinney must get a grip of this never-ending ferry fiasco.”

The ferry was supposed to be delivered in 2018 and the price tag for the Glen Sannox and its sister ship, MV Glen Rosa, has grown from an initial estimate of £97 million to over £360m.

Duncan Mackison, interim CEO of CalMac, said: “A number of senior crew already recruited to operate MV Glen Sannox have been working hard on both preparing the vessel for service and supporting existing CalMac operations.

“Three masters and 11 engineers joined CalMac in February 2022, at a time when MV Glen Sannox was scheduled to be delivered in July 2022. An additional five officer roles were filled in November 2023, at a time when delivery was expected between March and May 2024.

“Roles such as masters and senior engineers play a critical part in getting vessels ready to enter service and have developed operating procedures, work instructions and vessel familiarisation for MV Glen Sannox.

“The full crew is typically only in place four weeks prior to delivery.

"CalMac looks forward to taking delivery of MV Glen Sannox and getting her operationally ready to enter service and improve the service we provide to and from Arran.”