WWII tug returns to DeLand thanks to non-profit group


He worked in real estate. He was an educator. But it was in retirement that Dan Friend, president of the nonprofit DeLand Historic Trust, Inc., made history. Friend is getting closer to his dream of bringing a DeLand-built World War II tug back to DeLand. “It’s the only US Army ST tug to return to America,” Friend said. The ST479 – the Tiger – spans 86 feet long, 23 feet wide and weighs 140 tons of steel. There were 550 STs and small tugs sent into World War II. 29 of them were made in the Lake Beresford area of ​​DeLand, including the Tiger. Friend believes it was built in time for use in Normandy. “Ninety percent chance. They used whatever they could find there that had been built over time. They had to have them build the docks off the coast of France to recover the bodies. I mean there was so much,” Friend said. Friend is also the town’s military curator and it was his passion for all things military that led him to discover the Tiger in private ownership in Sweden. The owners gifted it to Friend, but he had to raise $200,000 to transport the Tiger across the Atlantic. Tiger is now docked in Green Cove Springs. A friend and others work to clean it up and get the tug to DeLand under its own power down St. Johns and across Lake George. Friend says the tug won’t just be the pride of the city and county. It is a national treasure. “I’ve been known to be stubborn about things, and I kept hooking up and talking to people and it happened,” Friend said. Although his angel, the anonymous donor, did the lion’s share. Bringing the tug back to the United States, Friend says he is now working through his non-profit organization, the DeLand Historic Trust, Inc., to raise funds to complete the job and get the tug back to DeLand and in a static monument. Friend says the tug the monument site needs to be close to the St. Johns River because it’s just too heavy to pull away from it. Its desired location is Ed Stone Park on Old New York Avenue near the St. Johns River Bridge, but this is still under discussion.

He worked in real estate. He was an educator. But it was in retirement that Dan Friend, president of the nonprofit DeLand Historic Trust, Inc., made history.

Friend is one step closer to his dream of bringing a DeLand-built World War II tug back to DeLand.

“It’s the only US Army ST tug to return to America,” Friend said.

The ST479 – the Tiger – spans 86 feet long, 23 feet wide and weighs 140 tons of steel. There were 550 STs and small tugs sent into World War II. 29 of them were made in the Lake Beresford area of ​​DeLand, including the Tiger. Friend believes it was built in time for use in Normandy.

“Ninety percent chance. They used whatever they could find there that had been built over time. They had to have them build the docks off the coast of France to recover the bodies. I mean there was so much,” Friend said.

Friend is also the town’s military curator and it was his passion for all things military that led him to discover the Tiger in private ownership in Sweden. The owners gifted it to Friend but he had to raise $200,000 to transport the Tiger across the Atlantic.

“I found an angel, a local patriotic angel who said I would give you $200,000 to get the boat back to Jacksonville,” Friend said.

The Tiger is now docked at Green Cove Springs. A friend and others work to clean it up and get the tug to DeLand under its own power down St. Johns and across Lake George. Friend says the tug won’t just be the pride of the city and county. It is a national treasure.

“I’ve been known to be stubborn about things, and I kept hooking up and talking to people and it happened,” Friend said.

Although his angel, the anonymous donor, did the lion’s share. Bringing the tug back to the United States, Friend says he is now working through his non-profit organization, the DeLand Historic Trust, Inc., to raise funds to complete the job and get the tug back to DeLand and in a static monument.

Friend says the tugboat monument site needs to be close to the St. Johns River because it’s just too heavy to walk away from it. Its desired location is Ed Stone Park on Old New York Avenue near the St. Johns River Bridge, but this is still under discussion.

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