She visited the vessel, which is moored on the Clyde beside the Glasgow Science Centre, in her role as Glasgow Southside MSP.
Ms Sturgeon met officer cadets from Clyde Marine Training, who are helping to turn the 84-year-old vessel into an arts venue to open next spring.
They are studying to become Merchant Navy officers at the City of Glasgow College.
Friends of TS Queen Mary (FoTSQM) has raised Â£800,000 so far towards their Â£2 million target in a campaign launched by its patron Robbie Coltrane.
Â£300,000 was spent buying the former Clyde pleasure steamer and towing it to Greenock from Tilbury in Essex last May.
Recent work has included repainting the funnels yellow.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Govan’s shipbuilding tradition is second to none and I was delighted to visit TS Queen Mary and see first-hand the work being done to restore this vital part of our heritage.
"This is a fantastic project and provides a great opportunity for young people to get involved in the restoration.”
Clyde Marine Training managing director Colin McMurray said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our cadets and a great project to work on.
"Partnering with Friends of TS Queen Mary during the restoration project will help to give these young people the skills they need for a future in the maritime industry.”
Iain Sim, a FoTSQM trustee said: “This historic ship has an important place in Scotland’s heritage, as the last surviving turbine steamship.
"However, she also plays an important part in our future too.
"Once restored, we hope she will help inspire the next generation of Scottish engineering talent.”
Support has also come from Glasgow Science Centre, Strathclyde University, Glasgow School of Art and the University of Dundee, along with corporate sponsors including Deloittes, AkzoNobel and Clydesdale Bank.
Built in 1933 by Denny of Dumbarton, TS Queen Mary sailed ‘doon the watter’ from Glasgow for more than 40 years to destinations such as Dunoon, Rothesay, Millport and Arran.
The ship was renamed Queen Mary II two years later at the request of the Cunard White Star Line, so it could use the name for its new liner, being built at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank.
The younger namesake has been a hotel and visitor attraction in Long Beach, California for the last 50 years.
TS Queen Mary was latterly operated on the Clyde by Caledonian MacBrayne until being withdrawn in 1977 and moved to London after plans to plans to use her as a maritime museum were scrapped on financial grounds.
The vessel served as a bar and restaurant beside Waterloo Bridge from 1998 to 2009.
She was sold to a French firm for conversion to a hotel and towed down the Thames to Tilbury but the plans fell through.
The ship was moved to dry dock in Greenock in September for a full inspection prior to her hull being stripped down and repainted, then to Glasgow in November.