MOUNT PLEASANT — Patriots Point’s board took the first step this morning toward bringing its storied warship Laffey back to the naval and maritime museum.

The group approved a motion to put out a request for bids to study three options for returning the destroyer to the attraction. But with a big financial question mark hanging over the process, that doesn’t mean the Laffey necessarily will come back.

Patriots Point used a $9.2 million emergency state loan in the summer of 2009, when the Laffey — riddled with rusting holes — seemed poised to sink into Charleston Harbor. The agency didn’t receive $20 million in expected federal funding that year and has yet to repay the state money.

In the meantime, Patriots Point has paid $11,250 per month in rent and a one-time, $125,000 cost for a mooring structure to house the Laffey on private property. Patriots Point executive director Mac Burdette outlined three options for moving the submarine Clamagore, noting that “ you can’t deal with the Laffey without the Clamagore.”

One option leaves the submarine in place and moves the Laffey to its inside. Another brings the Clamagore into the marina to the old home of the Coast Guard cutter Ingham, now part of a Key West museum. The third looks at a dry dock home for the Clamagore on the former Navy base in North Charleston.

The study approved this morning will examine all three choices. Read more in Thursday’s editions of The Post and Courier.