ALL hope of restoring the iconic Comet paddle steamer replica has been SUNK.

The neglected landmark - a once proud symbol of Inverclyde's rich maritime heritage - is officially beyond repair, the Telegraph can reveal.

A survey report which council chiefs refused to release earlier this year has concluded that any attempt to mend her is 'pointless'.

Naval Architects I K Macleod & Associates - who carried out a thorough inspection of the vessel 11 months ago - say that a brand new replica hull is now required.

Municipal Buildings bosses are now set to ask councillors to consider a 'refurbishment' plan for Comet.

The survey report - which cost £5,000 - states: "The existing replica is beyond repair, it should be possible to remove the machinery and fit it to a new replica vessel.

"Any new replica vessel should be stored in a climate controlled building."

Since she was built in 1962, the replica of Henry Bell's 1812 Comet, has been exposed to the elements in the centre of Port Glasgow.

Her wooden deck is now so derelict it's possible to go through it, the deck head of of the deck house has collapsed, decking previously replaced with plywood is 'completely rotten' in places, mould spores lurk in a cabin and her machinery is seized.

The report highlighted a plethora of other problems, including the fact that there is a danger of parts of the vessel falling on someone.

The council removed Comet's funnel 10 days ago.

In a recommendation set to go before councillors on Thursday, corporate director Scott Allan asks that they 'approve consider and cost options for the refurbishment and display of the Comet'.

Mr Allan states: "It is proposed that officers work with the Port Glasgow Regeneration Forum, potentially through a working group, to explore and cost options for the vessel."

A financial package of £50,000 was earmarked by the council 18 months ago but the only money spent so has been on the naval architect report.

The costs of building a new Comet are not contained in the survey report but Councillor Drew McKenzie, who has been fighting to save her, declared last week that the final bill would be 'astronomical'.

The I K Macleod report states: "It is unfortunately too late for a maintenance plan for the existing vessel, the best that can be hoped for is that the machinery can be removed and used on a new replica vessel.

"As the existing vessel is beyond repair, two shipyards have been approached for guideline prices for building a new replica hull out of larch planking on sawn oak framing.

"The estimated costs when available will be transmitted to the council."

A funnel-less Comet today cuts a pitiful sight in her prominent position in the centre of Port Glasgow.

We asked under Freedom of Information legislation earlier this year for a copy of the survey report but the local authority refused to release it — declaring it not sufficiently in the public interest to do so.

She underwent a year-long £180,000 overhaul and restoration at Ferguson's between 2010 and 2011.

A plan to install a £165,000 protective canopy over her was approved by the council in 2013, but the shelter never materialised.

The Telegraph told in April last year how 'essential repairs' and repainting were to be carried out on the replica of Europe's first commercially successful passenger steamboat.

The council previously declared its commitment 'to finding a long-term solution to the deterioration of the Comet replica'.

The original Comet was built for Sir Henry Bell at the John Wood shipyard in 1812.

Councillor McKenzie said: "It's part of the town's heritage."​