DELAND, Fla. – A World War II era tugboat that was built in DeLand will be brought home soon. The S.T. Tiger was supposed to be back in DeLand in November, but the hurricanes postponed it.
The organization behind bringing it back said their new target date is Jan. 15, but they said they also need to raise even more money to get it set up once it’s here.
“The boat’s in Astor, Florida after coming 4,900 miles from Stockholm, Sweden,” said Dan Friend with the DeLand Historic Trust, Inc. “It’s like a completely unknown chapter of World War II history sailing home after 78 years.”
The Tiger was one of 29 of these tugboats built in a factory on Lake Beresford in DeLand for World War II.
“They made over 550 U.S. Army World War II S.T. tugboats for harbor use all around the world in World War II. Some went to the Pacific, but many of them went to Europe,” he said.
Friend said the Tiger was likely used in Normandy.
He started research on the tugboats decades ago, even creating a website about them. Then, in early 2021, he got a call from a couple in Sweden – they had the Tiger and wanted to know if he wanted it.
“I found six boats around the world, but a lot of them had been completely rebuilt and butchered and they were just basically the hulls. This one was intact,” he said.
Friend and the Historic Trust collected almost $300,000 in donations to bring the Tiger back to the U.S. In July of this year, it traveled back to America from Sweden.
Friend hoped it would be back in DeLand in November, but the hurricanes pushed that back.
“We found a good location for it right across from Ed Stone Park where the water’s deep enough and out of the way enough for us to leave her there for a little while,” he said.
Friend said they’re still talking with city leaders in different parts of Volusia County to find a permanent spot for it, but he said now that they’ve cleaned her up, they’re going to need to raise more money to turn her into the memorial.
It will be the only one of the tugboats to ever be brought home.
“How can we get there? How do we get there? Do we have to use a crane? Extreme expenses involved. I think we have to raise at least another $200,000 to $300,000 to make it happen,” he said.
Friend said if you’d like to donate to the Tiger’s fund, you can call his office at 386-943-9537.
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