CALLS to save the Queen Elizabeth 2 from the scrapyard and bring the iconic liner back to UK shores are gathering momentum.

According to campaigners, the Clyde-built ship currently sits "filthy, forlorn and neglected" in a Dubai dock.

Several potential sites have been identified including London, the QE2's former home port of Southampton and Greenock with many keen to see the ship return to its Scottish roots.

The desolate scenario is in stark contrast to the QE2's illustrious four decades of service during which the ship - launched by the Queen at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank in 1967 - carried 2.5 million passengers including such famous names as Nelson Mandela and Elizabeth Taylor.

Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, bought the QE2 from Cunard for £50m in 2007 and had proposed to convert the historic vessel into a floating luxury hotel berthed off the man-made islands Palm Jumeirah.

The QE2 was handed over in 2008, but the global economic downturn saw those plans shelved indefinitely a year later. In 2013, it was announced that the ship would instead become a hotel in the Far East. That arrangement also appears to have foundered.

The engines were turned off two years ago and according to reports the QE2's interior is suffering from mould due to Dubai's hot, humid conditions. In recent months, the ship has been used as a fender for docking oil tankers - a heartbreaking image.

Leading the charge for the liner to be brought to Greenock is John Houston, founder of the BringQE2Home Campaign, whose idea has been backed by local politicians and Inverclyde Council.

Houston believes the QE2 should be permanently moored in Greenock as a gateway to the waterfront, providing a hotel base for visitors alongside a quayside exhibition of maritime heritage including the Cunard Line and homage to Clyde-based shipbuilding.

Greenock businessmen Sandy and James Easdale as well as Euromillions winners Colin and Chris Weir are reported to have expressed enthusiasm, while billionaire Jim McColl - the saviour of Ferguson Shipbuilders - has described proposals as "achievable" if a solid plan was put in place.

On paper, it may sound like full steam ahead yet many unknowns remain. It has been estimated that the current value of the QE2 is around £3million. The cost to tow or transport the ship to Europe is believed to be roughly £6.4m alone, while full conversion to a hotel could be at least £180m.

Where will that money come from? Would Dubai sell the QE2 even if the funds were raised? No one knows because the current owners won't talk to anyone, claim campaigners.

I have been fortunate to sail on the QE2 several times. There was a transatlantic crossing arriving into New York as the Manhattan skyline twinkled at dawn; and later a Mediterranean cruise where sun seekers pinked themselves on deck while sipping neon-coloured cocktails.

I was on board for the 40th anniversary cruise in 2007 and a year later as the QE2 left the Clyde for the last time, slipping through the darkness to the strains of Time To Say Goodbye, a spine-tingling, goosebump-raising moment.

My own final farewell came on a grey, misty morning in South Queensferry, pausing a moment to place a hand on the cool exterior of the ship before stepping aboard the tender to shore.

For a long time, I believed the QE2 should have been scrapped when it was retired from service in 2008. It was my feeling that of two other Clyde-built liners, Queen Elizabeth - the fire-damaged remains of which lie under the seabed in Hong Kong harbour - had been dealt a far preferable fate to Queen Mary, now a hotel, restaurant and entertainment facility in Long Beach, California.

Blaze of glory trumped languishing like a dusty artefact. Ships are akin to animals: they belong in the wild not captivity. I once stood on the dock at Gibraltar watching the QE2 strain at its ropes like a racehorse eager to be in full gallop on the ocean waves.

Seeing that same ship endure a slow, lingering demise in a far-flung desert port has galvanised feelings that this great liner shouldn't be allowed to rot 3,600 miles away.

On a recent trip "doon the watter" on the PS Waverley, I tried to pick out the landmarks of the former shipyards and picture the hum of industry that at one time thronged the Clyde. It felt sad that there is no bigger monument to this once thriving hub that was envied the world over.

The current owners have made it clear that they see the ailing vessel as little more than an unwanted carbuncle. There is so much love for the ship in Scotland. It is time to bring the QE2 home.