AN ambitious plan to make the SS Explorer in to one of the “pearls of Leith” needs funds and public help.

The National recently told the story of the SS Explorer which is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels as a result of her pioneering work in researching the seas as a steam-powered fisheries laboratory ship. She remains one of the last seagoing steam trawlers in the world.

The preservation society which is conserving and restoring the ship want to see her become one of the pearls of Leith, an ambitious plan by Leith Civic Trust to boost tourism to the port.

Launched in 1955, SS Explorer set a number of firsts including being the first fisheries research vessel to have its own onboard computer.

READ MORE: Celebrating the legacy of a ship steeped in Scotland's history

She entered service in 1956 with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, working under the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen. She was known as a capable vessel and served for 28 years.

Decommissioned in 1984, it was at first thought she would find a home in Aberdeen where she was built by A Hall and Co, but she is now berthed in Leith where the SS Explorer Preservation Society hopes to find her a permanent home.

The local Citadel Arts Group recently presented a play about the Explorer and that production is helping to promote the historic vessel and the campaign to restore her.

The society has issued a brochure stating its aims with funding targets revealed. It says: “The SS Explorer Preservation Society is actively working to secure the future of the ship. To do that we are aiming to give her back a purpose and make her an integral part of Leith and its community.

“We want the ship to become an educational resource, an asset for use in youth engagement and an interactive heritage attraction, alive with all the noise, smells and atmosphere of a ship at sea as well as the history of the yard and the people that built her.

“Opportunities will be created for participation in the arts by presenting SS Explorer as a filming and drawing location and as an exhibition space.”

As well as seeking volunteers, the society is looking for sponsors and donors to help fund the restoration.

The society says it needs funds of about £200,000 to dry dock the ship, clean the hull back to the metal, repaint the hull and carry out a complete technical survey of the condition of the vessel.

They need funds of £125,000 to adapt the interior and insert the ship into the context of Leith and Scotland’s maritime history and heritage.

A permanent publicly accessible berth will be required and, according to the society, Leith “would be the most appropriate, favourite and practical place for a new berth if one could be found.”