For decades she has lain miserable and slowly rotting, a stark contrast to the calm blue waters and bright sunshine of her berth in Hawaii’s Honolulu Harbour.

Now, however, a desperate battle to save the 19-century windjammer, Falls of Clyde, appears to have been won.

If all goes to plan, the iron-hulled former workhorse of the seas could be within a few months of making a triumphant return home to Scottish waters.

Campaigners have learned their bid to take over the historic ship has finally been accepted by state officials at the Department of Transportation (Harbours) in Hawaii.

The deal is subject to various procurement, tax and labour laws, however, they are confident they will meet the requirements and are pressing on with plans to remove the ship from the harbour for the journey home.

Once back in Scotland, there are plans to completely renovate the ship, turning it into a 21st century, carbon-free education and working vessel.

The go-ahead from Hawaiian authorities follows years of wrangling and arguments over the future of the last sailing ship of her kind in the world.

At one stage, it looked almost certain that the ship would be towed from her berth at the harbour and scuttled.

Glasgow-based Falls of Clyde International, the group behind the ambitious plans to make her a beacon for clean emission innovative technologies, say they now expect the vessel to be on the move within months.

David O'Neill, Director of Falls of Clyde International, said: “This has been a long time in the making but we are delighted. The crazy thing is that it could have happened years ago, and we didn’t have to have such a long delay.”

He added that the vessel is expected to be handed over by the Hawaiian authorities in early December, with the group required to have it moved from the harbour within 190 days.

Work is likely to be carried out at the quayside beforehand to ensure the vessel can cope with the stress of being moved.

Mr O’Neill added: “The outer plating is very thin and any sharp knocks or damage could be serious. We will be working with a Hawaii and a U.K. based engineering company to carry out the process of bringing her home and preparing her in Hawaii for the journey ahead.”

The 285ft long, 40ft wide vessel was built by Russell & Co, later Lithgows, in 1878. She became part of the Falls Line fleet, all of which were named after Scottish waterfalls. Her seven sister ships were either lost during wartime conflict or sunk at sea during storms.

The Falls of Clyde helped to open the seaways for the new British Merchant Fleets of the 20th century, and sailed to ports on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.

After 21 years sailing as a British vessel, she was bought by an American shipping executive and taken to Honolulu. She went on to carry oil, sugar, cargo and passengers between Hawaii and California.

Once her time as a workhorse of the seas over, she was berthed at the harbour in Honolulu and became a floating museum and event space, sitting proudly alongside the Aloha Tower Marketplace in the picturesque harbour.

Although designated as a US Historic National Landmark in 1989, plans to fully restore her came and went.

Eventually her condition deteriorated, despite her owners receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to help revive and restore her.

Amid fears that she would be scuttled, a Hawaii-based campaign group attempted in vain to save her. However, financial wrangles also dogged their efforts, while the vessel’s condition raised concerns that she could not be safely towed from the harbour without the risk of sinking and potentially blocking its narrow entrance.

Such an event would have been catastrophic for the harbour authorities and led to a stalemate over the vessel’s future.

Mr O’Neill said: “She is in no condition to be towed at the moment. Our plan is to move her from the quayside using a heavy lift ship which would come alongside and open doors, like a landing craft.

“The Falls of Clyde will be towed inside this other ship, the doors will close and the water will be pumped out.

“She will then be able to return to the UK.”

Another plan is looking into the possibility of using a submersible barge. Either option raises the possibility of an impressive sight as the vessel makes its return to Scottish waters riding ‘piggy back’ on another ship.

Once in Scotland, the vessel would be placed in dry dock to be transformed into an eco-friendly working ship. The plan is to use her to showcase the latest maritime carbon saving technologies while travelling around the globe carrying Fair Trade, sustainable cargoes, with volunteers and fee-paying passengers on board.

There are also plans for her to play an important environmental role, scooping up plastic waste from the ocean as she sails.

The group is now working to secure a base for the vessel’s extensive reconstruction and as an eventual ‘home’ featuring visitor facilities, retail, leisure and education facilities.

A vision for Greenock’s Victoria Harbour suggests a heritage village, including a naval museum, and centre charting the stories of the Falls of Clyde and the shipbuilding history of Inverclyde.

While the former Govan Graving Docks is also being considered, which could see Falls of Clyde becoming one of the first vessels at its Category A listed No 1 dock in more than 30 years.

Other sites being considered include Troon and Stranraer.

Mr O’Neill added: “Dialogue has been entered into with the respective councils and owners that can now proceed with some urgency.

“It is planned that a visitor/incubator village will be created at the selected site which will offer local jobs and create a visitor experience. There will also be a skills training centre as well as an apprenticeship scheme covering all the skills needed on site.”

While the Falls of Clyde is given a 21st century makeover, there are plans to secure another vessel, the Clyde-built Type 22 frigate HMS Ambuscade, to sit alongside.

It has been in the service of the Pakistani Navy since 1993 and is due to be decommissioned this year. The group hopes it can become a tourist attraction similar to HMS Belfast in London.

The organisation is also viewing a third vessel, County of Peebles, which is currently berthed in Punta Arenas in Chile. Built on the Clyde in 1875 and the world’s first four-masted, iron-hulled full-rigged ship, it has been beached as a breakwater since 2017.

“She belongs to the Chilean Navy and is older than The Falls of Clyde,” said Mr O’Neill.

“She was used as a clubhouse and floating party venue at one point, but has been inspected by the National Maritime Museum and given a clean bill of health to be lifted and moved to the UK.

He added: “I think we can do it.”