A CONTROVERSIAL ship will take up its new home in Harwich by January.

Despite fierce objections by some traders and Tendring councillors, the last manned lightship, the LV18, has been given the official go ahead to moor at Harwich Quay.

A licence granting the one year mooring has now been signed and it is hoped the ship will be ready for visitors by the middle of next year.

Sarah Candy, Tendring’s cabinet member for community partnerships and renewal, said the lightship will be a significant attraction for many people of all ages.

“This is just one of our first schemes in an ongoing programme of projects to regenerate Harwich and Dovercourt and it is an important step in the right direction,” she said.

“There has already been a large amount of interest when the new moorings were being built for the LV18 and that can only grow once the vessel is actually berthed there.”

Plans are in the pipeline to renew the contract in a years time for one allowing the ship to be kept in Harwich for the next 20 years.

Colin Crawford, chairman of the Pharos Trust, which owns the LV18, said: “This is a great day for LV18 as it enables the trust to complete its preparations for it to come alongside the new berth.

“Thanks to some generous assistance from a major paint supplier we now have enough to paint the entire ship above the water line.

“The work has already started on the starboard side of the hull and superstructure which will face Harwich Quay.”

The mooring between Ha’Penny Pier and Quay Wall was completed in August costing £220,000, which came from the Haven Gateway Partnership Growth Point fund.

David Ralph, chief executive of the Haven Gateway Partnership, said it will now be funding additional work.

“This new licence will release the money from the partnership to pay for refurbishment works to be carried out to the vessel,” he added.

“This will enable the public safe access to the LV18 and will include disabled access to certain areas of the ship.”