FEARS that the historic Falls of Clyde ship might not be returning to her home country looked to be receding yesterday, when it was revealed that Glasgow City Council had begun talks with the group trying to save the vessel.

After reports that she could go to England or the Netherlands, David O’Neill of the Save The Falls of Clyde International (FOCI) told The National that constructive talks took place with the council last week and options under discussion include berthing her at Yorkhill Quay, or other suitable sites on the Clyde in Glasgow.

Built in 1878 by Russell and Co in Port Glasgow, the Falls of Clyde is the only remaining sail-powered oil tanker in the world and the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship.

Long ago converted to a museum ship, she is now berthed in Honolulu Harbour in Hawaii, and despite being declared a US National Historic Landmark, the Hawaii Department of Transportation wanted her scuttled deep in the Pacific Ocean, before supporters of the ship stepped in to save her.

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FOCI recently received a tremendous boost when they were awarded the contract to remove Falls of Clyde from Honolulu Harbour by the State of Hawaii.

“There’s just a few legal and technical points to be ironed out,” said O’Neill, “and then we will finalise the contract.

“From that moment we have 180 days to remove her. That contract then funds the whole operation to bring her back to Scotland, and

we have shipbrokers already working on that project and a full plan is in place.”

O’Neill and his campaign group have firm plans to bring the ship back to the Clyde and restore her both as a tourist attraction and

as a working eco-friendly vessel, using the latest green technology that could be used for educational purposes.

“The council has switched on to what this could mean for Glasgow in terms of tourism and new technology,” said O’Neill, who adds that his group are not looking for any funding at this stage.

He said: “We are looking to work together with the council to secure a mooring somewhere on the Clyde within the city, and for example somewhere near the Tall Ship Glenlee at Yorkhill would be ideal.”

FOCI has looked at other possible sites in Scotland such as Inverclyde, Stranraer, Troon and Ayr, but the appeal of a berth on the Clyde is obvious – “it would be between Glasgow and Inverclyde, I would think, and Glasgow is talking to us.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Labour MSP Paul Sweeney are understood to be supporting the FOCI attempt to bring the ship to Glasgow, while SNP MSP James Dornan and Glasgow Council leader Susan Aitken have taken an interest.

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O’Neill said: “I have emphasised that we are not looking for funding, but sometimes it does seem that money will get thrown at projects which need funds while we don’t. All we need is assistance to find a mooring.

“One official said to me that because we don’t want funding they don’t know what to do with us.

“After we bring her to Glasgow, Falls of Clyde will then be on a barge and then we can get on with the work of restoring her.

“We are sure she would be a major attraction in her own right, with 500,000 visitors coming to see her, but we also have a plan to bring the Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Tariq back to the Clyde where she was built as HMS Ambuscade as one of the Type-2 frigates produced by Yarrows. There’s currently no warship museum on the Clyde, despite hundreds of warships being built on Clydeside.”