THE crumbling Comet paddle steamer replica in Port Glasgow may have reached the 'point of no return', a councillor fighting to save the iconic vessel has declared.

Independent town councillor Drew McKenzie believes that a complete replacement may have to be commissioned by Inverclyde Council in order to preserve the district's link with its maritime heritage.

The Telegraph told last week how a naval architect tasked with surveying the poor condition of the dilapidated little ship has reportedly condemned her.

Council bosses are currently keeping the full detail of the report - which has cost more than £5,000 to produce - under wraps until a future meeting of the environment and regeneration committee.

Councillor McKenzie said: "It is indeed a most concerning situation.

"I will reserve a final judgement until I see the full report to be put before the committee.

"Port Glasgow without the Comet would be quite sad.

"It is clear for all to see that the ship has suffered from the lack of a continual maintenance plan over the years and has now got to perhaps the point of no return."

Cllr McKenzie added: "It is very possible that the structure would not bear to be lifted as it was a number of years ago when transported to Ferguson's shipyard for a refit.

"It is a wooden structure and as such being exposed to the elements as it is does give it a limited shelf life.

"I would hope that if the report is as negative as is thought, that great consideration is given to what can be done to replace the current vessel in order that its importance to maritime history and its connection with Port Glasgow can be appreciated for generations to come."

We revealed last Monday that no repair work whatsoever has been carried out by the council on the decaying Port Glasgow landmark, a year after £50,000 was set aside to 'urgently' help address a catalogue of serious structural issues.​

The only money spent since the cash allocation was announced has been on the feasibility study into what restoration options - if any - are now available.​

A council spokesman said: "Given the importance of the Comet replica as a symbol of Port Glasgow and Inverclyde's rich maritime history and because of the nature of the vessel, it was necessary to employ a professional naval architect to carry out a comprehensive survey of its condition.

"The cost was £5,305.40.

"This was met from £50,000 set aside in the council's 2019/20 capital budget for investigating the Comet's condition and options for its future.

"The findings of the survey are being assessed in detail by council officers and a report will be brought before the environment and regeneration committee as soon as possible.

"All non-essential council committees are currently suspended until further notice because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

"All efforts at this time are focused on the response to the coronavirus crisis."