THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST was founded on May 1, 1986, at the instigation of the Ministry of Culture. Founders were The National Museum of Denmark, the Danish Maritime Museum (now M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark) and the Wooden Ships Association (TS).
This ensured the concentration of expertise and (later) financial support on an area which, despite the rich and varied nature of Denmark´s maritime cultural history, had never before been offered.
The aim of the Foundation is expressed in paragraph 3 of its charter:
- To contribute to the preservation and restoration of typical Danish vessels.
- To attempt, in exceptional cases by purchase, to keep the ownership of such vessels on Danish hands.
A fruitful discussion of aims and means was started within the executive committee, but as the Foundation in fact had no funds at all, it was decided to publish a report outlining the possibilities and extent of ships preservation activities. This report, entitled, THE PRESERVATION OF SHIPS IN DENMARK (83 pages), was published in the summer of 1989. The report describes the history of ships preservation, legislation and funding within related areas, the preservation of ships in neighbouring countries, guidelines for preservation, the number of vessels suitable for preservation, and suggestions as to how funds might be raised.
The report was discussed at a seminar in 1989, and shortly afterwards the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Culture each agreed to put up an annual sum of DKK 200,000 for a period of three years.
The most important direct form of financial support is the granting of interest-free loans with deferred repayement to the owners of vessels earmarked for preservation. In return, the owners accept an endoresement to the title deeds of the ship. This makes it attractive for owners to keep such ships on Danish hands, in agreement with the intentions of the charter of the Foundation, and THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST will be able to follow the subsequent work of conservation.
At the expiry of the trial period in 1992, it was expected that a more permanent arrangement would be made. However, it was not until two years later, in 1995, that THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST was mentioned in the national budget estimates.
From January 2000 DKK 5.000,000 was set aside for THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST. From 1995 the Foundation has had a consultant and secretary on a full-time basis to cope with the increasing number of enquiries about ships restoration issues and financial support.
Funds are granted once a year. Ship owners apply by a standard registration form and application guidelines. Detailed plans for the conservation of the ship must be appended to the application. In many cases, the applicant is visited personally in order to obtain further details. A condition for support is that conservation work must be performed by a recognised shipyard, though exceptions are made in some cases.
In the period 1990-2013, the owners of close to 100 ships were granted interest-free loans with deferred payment. The amount granted varies widely from DKK 30.00 to DKK 2.500.000, but an average would be about DKK 150,000. In addition, advisory services are given regarding the conservation of a large number of ships.
In connection with the granting of loans, THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST lays down a number of conditions for conservation, but can of course in such cases make even stricter demands with regard to the cultural-historical qualities of the work of conservation.
Over the years an acute need for capital to finance major conservation projects has risen, capital which the ships owners are facing major difficulties in raising. As a result of this, many ships are in a worse condition today than was originally believed, which in turn means that the need for financial support far exceeds the original estimates.
One of the most serious problems today is that of generational change. Many ship owners are today approaching the age of pensioning and often have all their savings tied up in their ship. Naturally, they want to sell to the highest bidder. By granting interest-free loans with deferred payment, THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST will support a new generation of sailors interested in owning a traditional ship.
Apart from arranging loans, the Trust also provides extensive advisory services for other Danish authorities and the Danish Shipping Board. The Foundation has been represented in a committee dealing with the control and safety of ships, work that has led to new legislations.
As from 2013 and four years on, THE DANISH SHIPS PRESERVATION TRUST will receive an additional sum of DKK 1,8 mill. to ships preservation. By April 2014 the annual budget balances at ca. DKK 5,3 mill (appr. € 725.000).