A plan to raise Asgard II, which is lying at the bottom of the sea off the French coast, will be presented to the cabinet before Christmas.
Willie O’Dea, the defence minister, hopes to commission a salvage company to raise the government’s training vessel so that it can be restored.
Officials are in negotiations with a specialist firm which submitted a “favourable” tender to raise the ship, which was designed in the 1980s by Jack Tyrrell from Wicklow.
If a deal is agreed, the company could raise the vessel from the seabed as early as next spring, weather and tidal conditions permitting. The operation could be paid for using money from the ship’s insurance policy.
Asgard II was covered by Allianz, an international firm, for €3.8m. The Department of Defence is confident a full insurance payout would cover the entire cost of the salvage operation and a refit of the vessel if it is successfully refloated.
A survey of the sunken ship by a Remotely Operated Vehicle in September showed that Asgard II is largely intact and could be saved, although it lies under 80 metres of water 31 km off the French coast in the Bay of Biscay.