A seemingly impossible task: Bring home a World War II tugboat, which took part in the invasion of Normandy in 1944, that was built along Lake Beresford in the early 1940s, but, more recently, was stuck on a dock in Stockholm, Sweden, says an article published in Beacon.
For nearly a decade, DeLand Historic Trust President Dan Friend has worked to bring the boat home.
As of June 25, ST 479 Tiger is on its way.
Saying the process wasn’t easy is most certainly an understatement — hurdles included the cost (about $200,000), removing vagrants who had taken up residence on the boat, coordinating with a government increasingly antsy to clear its marinas due to the war in Ukraine, securing a cargo vessel for transport, removing all fluids from the boat as required by law (including ballast water), and lifting the estimated 140-plus tons by crane, all done during the major Swedish holiday of Midsummer.
An anonymous donor provided the funds, and Friend himself flew to Sweden a couple of months ago to deal with some of the security problems.
After negotiations, a Sevenstar cargo ship agreed to take on the tugboat, and, barring unforeseen circumstances, will arrive in Jacksonville with the approximately 78-year-old tugboat on July 11.
“I’m pretty ecstatic this is happening,” Friend told The Beacon.
“We’re off to the races.”
Getting the boat down the river for its final trip home.
“Having the boat in Jacksonville solves all kinds of questions about the viability of this project,” Friend said.
“The boat is no longer in Sweden — it will be literally a river ride away.”
Friend envisions the tugboat lifted out of the water and displayed as a monument “to the WW2 builders and crews of all of the US Army ‘ST’ small harbor tugs” at one of two locations: Ed Stone Park, west of DeLand in Volusia County, right along the St. Johns River, or Lake Monroe, in DeBary, also along the river.
More funds are needed for the ST 479 Tiger’s “one last trip,” Friend said.
Friend estimates the costs between $60,000 and $200,000, all depending on whether the boat, which rides 9 feet deep in the water, will need to be lifted across portions of Lake George, which has shallower sections of around 7 to 8 feet.
The current timeline will have the boat home in October, Friend said.
The story of the tugboat and its incredible journey so far is now inextricably tied to the extraordinary efforts Friend has made to get the unique vessel home.
“I know now that this will be my legacy,” Friend said with a laugh.
“My friends describe me as tenacious,” he added.
Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe