A £40,000 feasibility study is being carried out into the creation of a maritime heritage centre on Wearside.
The City of Adelaide was built in Sunderland in 1864
Local people, many who worked in the industry, set up Sunderland Maritime Heritage group several years ago.
They have welcomed the move and said the city's shipbuilding history has been overlooked for a long time.
The group wants to create a permanent record of the shipbuilding industry on the Wear which lasted from 1346 until 1988 when the last yards closed.
Peter Winn, from the group, said of the feasibility study: "A heritage centre will bring a lot of tourists into Sunderland."