THE iconic Waverley paddle steamer is expected to return to Largs waters in June - just in time for its 75th anniversary.

Operators Waverley Excursions have confirmed that the last seafaring paddle steamer is preparing to make its big comeback - but will only be carrying a third of passengers due to social distancing.

The vessel only sailed for two weeks last year due to the pandemic and a crash at Brodick in which 24 of the 239 passengers and crew were injured.

The ship is now being readied for service following completion of repairs to her bow two weeks ago.

Last month, it was announced a man who had been on board when it ploughed into the pier on Arran had received a five-figure payout after suffering a broken arm - one of three out of court settlements.

An undisclosed number of other cases are still being pursued.

Waverley Excursions general manager Paul Semple said: “We haven’t published the timetable yet but are in the process of confirming dates and times with all the Clyde piers.

"We are currently working towards starting passenger sailings during the week of June 21.

“Given the current Scottish Government guidance on physical distancing, we will be operating at a reduced capacity of 35 per cent.

"We will initially publish a sailing programme for the Clyde and take a decision later on whether Waverley can go south this year towards the end of August.

“Waverley returned to Glasgow on May 13 after dry docking and the bow repair.

"We are carrying out further maintenance works ahead of crewing her for the season.

"We are currently recruiting crew.”

Waverley Excursions have thanked everyone that has donated to Waverley’s Covid-19 Relief Appeal – which has now reached £350,000.

A spokesperson said: "Over 2,700 people donated which is a fantastic level of support."

The timetable is currently being confirmed with port and pier owners and will be published shortly.

In 2021 Waverley will join in celebrations to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21.