Stornoway is seeking bids to develop a deep water port, which could bring in fresh opportunities in decommissioning and renewables.
The town’s port authority is embarking on the largest single project in its history, aimed at bringing significant economic growth to the Western Isles.
The design for the deep water scheme is due to be completed by May next year, with construction to start by the end of 2019.
It is targeted for completion by June 2021.
The tendering of the design contract marks the start of the process, which the port authority said is “crucial” for economic growth.
It will be used for decommissioning activities, as well as berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components.
Stornoway welcomed 43 cruise ships last year, and it is estimated that a wider berthing facility would attract up to 40 more per year.
Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse met with the officials this week, and said he will work with the Authority to deliver the proposals.
In a visit to Aberdeen on Thursday, Mr Wheelhouse announced an extra £5million for the decommissioning challenge fund, which organisations have until the end of September to apply for.
He also said that Scotland will get an ultra-deep water port.
Stornoway Port Authority chief executive Alex Macleod said: “The tendering of the design contract marks a significant date for the Port Authority and the Hebrides.
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity which will have transformational effects on the local economy and beyond.
“Whilst the work on the design continues, we will work with a number of agencies, including the Scottish Government, to investigate and source innovative ways to fund the project.”