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Johnny E. Balsved


Resurrection of the missile/torpedo boats:

Book launch followed by opening of museum ship

The new book "Søheltenes skibe" (Ships of the heroes of the sea), the story of the ten WILLEMOES-class missile/torpedo boats, is launched together with the news that SEHESTED is to be opened to the public.

The missile/torpedo boat SEHESTED

The missile/torpedo boat SEHESTED will open to the public in the autumn holiday.
(Photo: Johnny Balsved)

By Johnny E. Balsved

The RDN's Officer Training College on Nyholm provided the attractive venue, and the RDN’s Brass Band provided a musical welcome for the many invited guests.

The occasion was Friday’s publication of commodore Niels Chr. Borck's and Søren Nørby's new book, "Søheltenes skibe", the story of the RDN's WILLEMOES class missile/torpedo boats.

The Director of the Danish National Museum of Military History, Ole L. Frantzen, took the opportunity to announce that the missile/torpedo boat SEHESTED, which is currently a museum ship, will be opened to the public during the whole autumn holiday.

SEHESTED to be opened

Whilst the occasion was the launch of the new book about the ten WILLEMOES class missile/torpedo boats, the news that the last of these vessels was at long last to be opened to the public was also welcomed.

Since the vessel was decommissioned from the RDN in 2000, it has been laid up in Aalborg, where it was originally to have been added to the collection at Aalborg Maritime and Naval Museum, but that plan was subsequently abandoned.

In 2005 it was decided that SEHESTED would instead join the Danish Naval Museum’s collection and go on show at Holmen.

SEHESTED is today the only surviving example of the ten WILLEMOES class missile/torpedo boats.

A long time coming

One of the authors, commodore Niels Chr. Borck, explained that it had taken just as long to write the book as to get SEHESTED opened as a museum-ship.

The commodore was involved when the first missile/torpedo boats were received by the RDN in 1977, and was also the officer commanding the squadron that comprised these vessels when they were phased out in 2000, so undoubtedly knows what he’s talking about.

The book is not just the story of the RDN's WILLEMOES class missile/torpedo boats from cradle to grave, but is also an account of the RDN's involvement in the Cold War.

The book’s 300 pages present the technical information in a way that is easily understood by mere mortals.

Suddenly the technical details are not just for the experts, but something that most of us can understand.

The book also deals with life on board.

For example, there are anecdotes about asking for "Dead fingers and combat cocoa", colloquial jargon for the red sausages and lukewarm cocoa that were traditional fare during exercises at sea with the torpedo boat squadron.

The reader is of course also treated to some of the many seadogs' tales that have characterized service on board the torpedo boats throughout the years.

The Director of the National Museum of Military History, Ole L. Frantzen

The Director of the National Museum of Military History, Ole L. Frantzen, welcomed the guests to the book launch and announced the news about SEHESTED.
(Photo: Johnny Balsved)

The book's 2 authors, Søren Nørby (M.A. Hist) (left) and commodore Niels Chr. Borck (right)

The book's 2 authors, Søren Nørby (M.A. Hist) (left) and commodore Niels Chr. Borck (right), seen here in front of the torpedo/missile boat SEHESTED.
(Photo: Johnny Balsved)

And for the sake of completeness I should mention that the other co-author, Søren Nørby (M.A. Hist) from the RDN Library, is not only a familiar figure to regular readers of, amongst other things, this website, but has many other publications to his name.

Willemoes march

When writing the book, commodore Niels Chr. Borck suggested that the conductor of the RDN Brass Band might compose a march, the Willemoes march, to commemorate these magnificent vessels.

The RDN Brass Band took up the challenge, and the formal part of the event concluded with the band performing the new march.

The march can be found on a DVD included with the book.

The RDN Brass Band performing the new Willemoes march

The RDN Brass Band performing the new Willemoes march for the invited guests in the atrium of the RDN’s Officer Training College.
(Photo: Johnny Balsved)

Translated by Alan Russel (December 3, 2007)

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This page was first published: September 29, 2007 (December 3, 2007)

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