THE world's oldest cruise ship could be the first vessel broken up at Inchgreen Dry Dock following a series of contract bid failures by a scrappage company.

Atlas Decommissioning is understood to be in talks to bring the 76-year-old MV Astoria to Greenock to be dismantled — nearly a year after leasing the dormant dock from owners Peel Ports.

The move comes after bosses at fledgling firm Atlas — which was set up 14 months ago — had tried and failed to bring three container ships to Inchgreen — the Maersk Idaho, Nysted Maersk and Lucie Schult.

Company bosses told a stormy public meeting at Greenock's Tontine Hotel last November that they would have a 24,000-ton ship at Inchgreen before last Christmas.

Atlas chiefs — who promised to create 100 skilled jobs at the dry dock amid a wave of publicity last year — have declined to comment on the Astoria move.

A spokeswoman for the company told the Telegraph: "At the moment, we are unable to comment on your enquiry about the Astoria due to client confidentiality.

"However, what we can say is that Atlas is currently in the process of exploring a range of local and international prospects, to accommodate vessels in Inchgreen."

Atlas says it has invested £6 million in Inchgreen, however, repeated attempts by the Telegraph to ascertain exactly what the money has been spent on have gone unanswered.

We revealed in March how Atlas was forced to lay off its start-up workforce after failing to bring any ships to Greenock.

Atlas's blueprint to bring end-of-life container ships to the dry dock lay in tatters following a massive surge in ship-based freight transport as a result of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company last month called for government support to scrap oil and gas industry vessels at Inchgreen.

Managing director Michael Dixon said at the time: "It is critical that the entire UK decommissioning supply chain is afforded the support to be able to continue its offering for the future and that support must be actioned now or the supply chain will simply cease to exist."

MV Astoria — which visited Greenock as part of the 2019 cruise ship season — was launched in 1946.

The 16,100 gross tonnage ship was originally built as a transatlantic liner and was called MS Stockholm.

She has since undergone no fewer than ten name changes during her seven-plus decades of service, and was named Astoria in 2016.

Astoria sailed with Cruise and Maritime Voyages until 2020 when the company suspended operations due to the pandemic and she was subsequently laid up for sale.