THE fate of the historic Falls of Clyde ship is again hanging in the balance after the authorities in Hawaii put the 140-year-old vessel up for sale following the collapse of deals to repatriate her to Scotland.

The last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker, has been berthed for more than a decade in Honolulu Harbour, where volunteers have cared for her.

The Friends of the Falls of Clyde and Scottish-based Save Falls of Clyde International were pinning their hopes on a deal to transport her back to Scotland to become a major tourist attraction on the Clyde, where she was built at Russell’s shipyard in 1878.

That original deal has fallen through and the Hawaii Department of Transport Harbors Division, which impounded the ship in 2016, has asked for bids by February 28.

In December the ship sprang a major leak and there were fears she would sink at her berth, but she has been stabilised after emergency repairs.

The National can reveal there is still hope that the ship can be brought back to Scotland. Friends of Falls of Clyde board members met with the Harbors Division administrator and the meeting was told that a grant for the project could be received and that Sevenstar Yacht Transport was still interested in moving the ship back to Scotland, “but it will be a couple of months to get scheduled,” they said.

The Friends stated: “The Harbors administrators laid out three terms that must be met in order to reconsider the auction: Save Falls of Clyde International must have a signed and paid for contract with a carrier, a firm date for the move must be set before hurricane season begins June 1, and a plan to safely maintain Falls of Clyde until the move must be provided.

“While there is some optimism that all will come together, time is short.”