Well-wishers applauded the return of SS Nomadic in a welcome ceremony beside the Odyssey Arena yesterday evening.
Blazing sunshine bathed the scene as the historic vessel, mounted high on a submersible barge, took pride of place at the mouth of the River Lagan.
Nomadic, which carried wealthy passengers from Cherbourg to Titanic on the doomed ocean liner's maiden voyage, will remain at the Odyssey until 20th July when she will be moved to a dry dock at Harland & Wolff to undergo an inspection.
She was built at the Belfast shipyard alongside the Titanic, 95 years ago, served Titanic's sister ship Olympic, played a vital role in two world wars and served Cunard's great transatlantic ocean liners.
The next step is to have her reclassified as a ship so that she can be placed on the Historic Ships Register.
At present, the last remaining White Star Line vessel is classified merely as a floating restaurant.
Last night, Mr Hanson said that although Nomadic is a relatively small vessel at just over 1,200 tonnes, she is an important element in the industrial heritage of Belfast and of Harland & Wolff.
"Today is an important date in Northern Ireland's proud maritime heritage. There is worldwide interest in the ill-fated Titanic and now is the time for Belfast to capitalise on this," he said.
"We should not under-estimate what needs to be done. The fund raising aspects will be difficult and making an application for National Lottery funding will not be easy due to other competing requests.
"Many famous ships were built in Belfast. Many of them were much larger than the Nomadic but most of them have gone.
"It has the potential to bring the living history of this period back to Belfast in a tangible way which will be of world-wide interest. It will be an attraction to tourists and help us in the regeneration of Belfast," Mr Hanson said.
Belfast City Council deputy mayor Ruth Patterson said Nomadic was one of the oldest remnants of Belfast's ship-building past.
"The challenge of creating a vision for a Titanic-themed tourist attraction in 2012 should be a key motivator for us all," she said.
"Much work is already underway - however, the restoration of the Nomadic would add a further dimension to the appeal of the Titanic Quarter. This attraction must not only capture the imagination of people in Northern Ireland but across the world, to ensure that Belfast's growing reputation as a major city for tourism continues to flourish."
Source: Belfast city council , Gotobelfast
Note: One of our members, Strider_UK has submitted numerous high quality photos of the Nomadic found in the Photo gallery under the section Ship spotting : Nomadic