The SS Nomadic, the last of the White Star ships and a vital link to the Titanic story, will return to Belfast in July.
The Nomadic took passengers out to the Titanic
The Northern Ireland Office bought the ship at an auction in Paris for £171,320 in January.
Social Development Minister David Hanson said a submersible barge will be used to bring the ship home.
He said this would present "the least risk to successfully transporting the 95-year old vessel".
"Following competitive tender my department has contracted Anchor Marine and Hammer Marine Services to bring the Nomadic home to Belfast," he said.
A charitable trust to coordinate the fundraising and oversee the restoration of the Nomadic is also to be established.
The luxury ferry, built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast the year before Titanic took first class passengers to the great liner which sank with the loss of more than 1,500 people in 1912.
Campaigners had been lobbying the government in an attempt to take the ship back to Belfast.
Nomadic saw service in both World Wars and was later used as a restaurant on the Seine in Paris.
More recently, it has been languishing semi-derelict in the port of Le Havre.
The cost of buying the ship and bringing it back to the city would be no more than £400,000, according to a Department of Social Development spokesman.
It would then need about £7m to restore the ship to its original condition.
It is hoped that the vessel will become the centrepiece of a new tourist quarter dedicated to the world's most famous ship.
Other attractions include the slipway where Titanic was built, the drawing offices where the blueprints for the ship were drawn and the Thompson Dock and pump house where she was fitted out.