THE battle has been launched to save the last shipyard on the Lower Clyde.

Ferguson Shipbuilding of Port Glasgow has been put into voluntary administration as leading insolvency experts try to find a new operator for the stricken yard.

Major cash flow problems and mounting debts resulted in a hush-hush meeting on Thurday night between the yard's owners led by managing director Richard Deane with accountancy giants KPMG which is now running the cash-crippled business.

As reported in later editions last night, joint administrators Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar moved in yesterday morning and immediately sacked 70 workers.

Just seven remain in a business which was originally established 112 years ago in 1902.

The yard in recent times specialised in roll-on/roll-off ferries used by CalMac. Its last multi-million pound ­order was for the world's first "hybrid" passenger ferries which combined diesel electric and lithium ion battery power.

Today the administrators appealed for potential new owners to make contact while Port Glasgow-born MSP Stuart McMillan commented: "This is terrible news for Ferguson Shipbuilders and all the workers who face an uncertain future.

"I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Scottish Government and intend to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament next week."

Jim Moohan, chairman of the Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions in Scotland, claimed there had been worries about the yard's future for sometime.

Last night he said: "The men were told to take their tools and go home today without a penny or a letter of comfort or anything. This is the end of commercial shipbuilding in Scotland.

"The yard has struggled for work for a number of years now and the Scottish Government gave us an ­assurance that the work would be there and the yard would survive.

"There was a personal commitment from the First Minister that the work force would be protected and that work would remain.

"This is a scandal and Alex Salmond should deliver a personal apology to each and every one of these men today."

The contract for both ferries was worth more than £20m and was placed by Holyrood.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "We will do everything we can to promote a strong future for commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde and remain hopeful that a new owner can be found to continue the proud tradition and innovative engineering of Ferguson Shipbuilders."