THE DANISH NAVIGATION AND HYDROGRAPHY AUTHORITY (FARVANDSVÆSENET) was a large department under the Ministry of Defense until 2011. It was reorganized in 1973 when the Lights and Buoys Service, the Lifeboat Institution and the Pilotage Service all were merged into one institution, the Farvandvæsenet.
Its tasks included the buoying of Danish waters, pilotage, lifeboat service, and the obtaining of data necessary for the production of sea-charts. These tasks are not new but have existed for several hundred years. In 1560 King Frederik II decreed that lights should be established at Skagen (the Skaw), Anholt and Kullen (on the Swedish coast). They were lighted in 1561. The National Pilotage Service was established in the 16th century when King Christian V appointed six pilots to the pilot-station in Dragør. The National Lifeboat Institution made a tiny start in the middle of the 19th century. The hydrographic surveying and production of sea-charts has been carried out since the middle of the 17th century. One of the oldest known charts of Danish waters is a chart of the southern part of the Sound made by Bagge Wandel who was appointed principal of the navigation school at the naval base in Copenhagen by Christian IV in 1647.
It was not, however, until recent times that sea charts became available for ordinary navigation as they formerly were considered military secrets. Due to the progress in development, the traditional sea charts will soon become museum-pieces, as they in a few years will be replaced by electronic charts. The Radio Navigation Service is the latest area of responsibility to be placed under the DANISH NAVIGATION AND HYDROGRAPHY AUTHORITY .
Just inside the hall you see an exhibition illustrating the development of the National Lifeboat Service. This service came about gradually when coastal rescue stations were set up along the Danish coasts. They all had a rocket apparatus with which they could shoot a life-line to a wrecked ship in order to establish a breeches buoy, whereby they could rescue the shipwrecked. The rocket station in the museum was formerly placed at Hvide Sande at the North Sea coast. The larger rescue stations were also supplied with lifeboats which had to be rowed; these were later replaced by motor lifeboats, one of which, MR 23 was used by the rescue station at Slettestrand in North Jutland. Today it is exhibited on our outdoor grounds.
Today several stations have been closed while the remaining stations have been modernized and supplied with fast and seaworthy lifeboats, several of which have been built in Aalborg. Models of old and new lifeboats can be seen in the exhibition.
The lifeboat stations are primarily manned by volunteers most of whom are fishermen.