Henrik Gerner and the Danish 1776 ‘Defence Ship’ Programme

By Dan G Harris, published August 1995


Relatively unknown outside of his home country of Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, this article introduces the naval architect Henrik Gerner, a contemporary of F H Chapman, and his significant contribution to the revival of Denmark’s shipbuilding industry, primarily through the introduction of defence ship or naval auxiliary programme. The piece opens with a discussion of the Danish shipbuilding problems prevailing at the time and how Gerner responded with his report and recommendations to the government, including a description of what the concept of a ‘defence ship’ was – effectively an armed merchantman. This latter aspect is supported by the inclusion of copies of original ship’s draughts from the Danish archives. The conclusion addresses the limited success of the concept, regardless of how well-built the ships were, not the least the inability of the ships to carry sufficient cargo to make them cost-effective.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Baltic | North Sea | Other (Eighteenth C) | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Administration | Merchant Marines | Navies | Shipbuilding & Design

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