The QE2, one of Southampton's most iconic cruise ships, could be set to be sold for scrap for £20m.
According to reports, the ship's owners in Dubai have accepted an offer from China to scrap the vessel.
That is despite British plans to take QE2 back to the UK, in the form of a luxury floating hotel on the River Thames.
Originally, Cunard sold the ship to Dubai World for it to be used as a 1,000 room hotel at the Palm Jumeirah, a collection of man-made islands in the shape of a palm tree.
However, the worldwide economic downturn put pay to those plans and the ship has since been moored at Port Rashid, with a cost of £650,000 a month to maintain her.
It has been claimed a Chinese crew of around 20 boarded the QE2 last week, replacing a crew of around 40 who had been working on board.
The move has prompted fears that a deal with scrap merchants in China has already been done.
The anchor of the QE2 has given by Cunard to Southampton as a gift to commerate the 40 years of service the ship enjoyed from her home port.
It is now on display outside Holy Rood church in the city's High Street.