A LAST chance to save the Scottish-built historic sailing ship the Falls of Clyde appears to be succeeding as the State of Hawaii’s Department of Transportation has welcomed a Scottish plan to return the vessel from Honolulu Harbour to the Clyde.

Launched in Port Glasgow in 1878, Falls of Clyde is the last remaining iron-hulled four-masted sailing ship anywhere in the world.

Rusting badly, she has been declared dangerous by the Harbors Division of the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (DoT), who wanted to tow her out of the harbor and sink her to become a diving tourism attraction.

Her owners, the preservation society The Friends of the Falls of Clyde, feared that the 139-year-old ship would be lost to the Pacific Ocean.

However, now a plan hatched in Scotland may yet save the ship, last of the once-renowned Falls line, of which there were eight ships built by Russell and Company at Port Glasgow.

Bruce McEwan of the Friends group said yesterday that a heritage group in Glasgow is working with a Norwegian company to transport the vessel using a heavy lift ship which works as a floating dry dock.

McEwan himself is talking with a barge company about the logistics of taking the Falls of Clyde out of the harbor, with his group having raised $100,000 towards the cost of transferring her back to the Clyde.

McEwan said: “The Scots love their maritime history. They are proud of the fact that this ship turns 139 this year, they built it, it’s still afloat.”

One of the Scots behind the plan has been talking to Hawaii News.

David O’Neill of Save the Falls of Clyde International, said: “Department of Transportation Harbors has agreed to release the ship to us once the lift ship arrives. They will not continue to seek other options and accept our efforts to return her to Scotland.”

Hawaii News reported that two shipyards in Scotland have offered their dry docks and services to help support the project and if all goes as planned, the ship could be back home in September.

In its long career, Falls of Clyde sailed round both Capes and to every continent except Antarctica, before she was eventually sold to an American shipping company and plied the sugar trade route between California and Hawaii.

She was then sold to be an oil tanker off Alaska, where her masts were shorn, before it was decided to scuttle her in 1963. A public outcry in Hawaii and a campaign to save her brought the ship to Honolulu as many remembered her sailing there. Falls of Clyde arrived in Hawaii to a state welcome, with helicopters dropping flowers and boats in bunting tooting their horns. She was given a religious blessing.

Patricia Mirrlees, wife of Nobel Prize winner Sir James Mirrlees, and a former resident of Hawaii, has been one of the leaders in the campaign to save the ship that she saw in Honolulu many times.

She recently told The National: “The last sailing ship of her kind, with her destruction an irreplaceable part of Scottish and global maritime history will be lost.

“Ideally the Falls of Clyde should be brought home to Scotland and saved for the nation since she is such a valuable part of our maritime history.

“But the first step is to save her from being sunk in Honolulu.”

Comments on Save the Falls of Clyde International facebook page agreed: “It will be a tragic loss if the iconic sailing ship Falls of Clyde slips beneath the waves and leaves our world. She can be saved!”

“The people of Scotland and Glasgow want this ship back to the Clyde. The NASA of ship building in its HEYDAY..

“We hope to get her back. Great campaign hope you succeed in bringing ship back home.”