CAMPAIGNERS working to save Clydebank’s shipbuilding heritage have cautiously welcomed progress to preserve the RMS Queen Mary for future generations.

The historic liner is in dire straits in Long Beach California, where it has been berthed since 1967.

Last week, Long Beach City Council considered its options, all of which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

An estimated $289 million in repairs are needed after years of decline and the most recent operator going bankrupt.

But even to “retire and recycle” the liner could cost up to $190m.

The Queen Mary is reported to bring in thousands of jobs and more than $93m in economic output.

If the city drydocks the ship, it could last another century, but cost millions more.

Gil Paterson, former MSP and chair of the Ship Yard Trust in Clydebank, told the Post: “Having had the great privilege, spending some time on this marvel of engineering, being overawed at the sheer beauty of the interiors, created by artisans and thinking this was all made by ordinary men and women who lived at most a tram ride from the yard it was made, then it would be a travesty if all that effort was ultimately lost.”

Fellow board member Tom McKendrick said: “The Queen Mary is simply a magnificent creation. She is however an ‘old lady of the sea’ in need of gentle care and maintenance.

“I sincerely hope this happens. It would be a lovely end to her story if she came home to the river of her birth.

“It is doubtful she would survive the journey of course. But it’s a nice thought nevertheless.”

And Ian Johnston, board member, added: “The City of Long Beach has had the Queen Mary for 54 years, longer than she was in service with Cunard.

“With every year that goes by it becomes even more important to retain and maintain this wonderful ship.

“She defines not only a long gone era but also the superb skills of Clydeside workers.

“I sincerely hope that Long Beach is up to the task of finding a new way forward for this iconic ship.”

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP wrote to the US Embassy about the Queen Mary expressing his concern for the liner’s future.

Officials replied they shared the “admiration for his invaluable piece of our shared legacy”.

The MP said: “Having raised concerns with the US Ambassador’s office about the deteriorating condition of the RMS Queen Mary, it’s welcome news that the City of Long Beach has once again taken responsibility for restoring this iconic liner.

“The Queen Mary is more than just a ship - she is a proud part of Clydebank’s working class industrial heritage and of immense cultural importance not just in the US and UK but worldwide.

“I am encouraged by the commitment given by the Mayor of the City Long Beach to preserve and safeguard the Queen Mary for future generations.

“To lose such an important part of our shared heritage would be unthinkable and I will continue to press the authorities in the US for the necessary urgent repairs be completed without delay.”