WWII tugboat arrival in Central Florida delayed

A historic World War ll tugboat's arrival back home to Volusia County has been delayed.

The boat – which was believed to be used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy – was originally built in DeLand. It has already made the trip across the Atlantic and was supposed to float down the St. John's River from Jacksonville to arrive in DeLand on Sunday.

However, according to the DeLand Historic Trust, the river is too low for the boat to sail. 

Officials say this gives the organization time to find the boat a permanent home.

Last month, Dan Friend – president of the DeLand Historic Trust – said the tugboat was in Astor, Florida after coming 4,900 miles from Stockholm, Sweden. 

The Army used tugboats to move loads all over the world. Friend said having one back in DeLand would be historic. 

"It’s our holy grail. It’s that rare," Friend said of ST-429, built in 1944. 

Only 29 tugboats were built during World War II on Lake Beresford in Volusia County by people in DeLand and the western part of the county.

Friend, who is a history buff, said he discovered ST-429 nearly eight years ago, when a couple in Sweden owned it. Friend said the owners agreed to gift the non-profit organization the tugboat after their deaths and put it in their wills, but they relocated to London during the COVID pandemic and were looking to get rid of the boat.

Friend led a major fundraising effort to get the tugboat from Sweden to Florida.