International Call Sign: Oscar-Victor-Mike-Bravo
The Langelandsfort museum received MHV 81 Askø in October 2005 as a gift from the naval homeguard (MHV is the abbreviation of “marinehjemmeværnet”, which means naval home- guard).This was not least due to the desire of the naval home-guard to preserve this ship: HMV Askø simply belongs in the museum.It was built in 1941 as a minesweeper for the Danish navy. In 1965 she was handed over to the naval home-guard and until she was decommissioned in 2005 this vessel served its country for a record breaking period during the cold war.
Before the second World War, the navy decided to build a series of so called shallow water minesweepers to replace the six old, decommissioned torpedo boats, which until then had been used for that purpose. In all, ten small minesweepers were built at four shipyards which specialized in building wooden ships: Holbæk, Frederikssund, Korsør and Svendborg. All ten ships were finished in 1941, during the German occupation. When the Germans disarmed the army and navy in august 1943, they also attacked the mine-sweepers. Two of them were sunk at Holmen (the main Danish naval base near Copenhagen) and one was burnt, but three others (MS-1, MS-7 and MS-9) managed to flee to Sweden. Towards the end of the war, these ships were used to ferry the Danish Brigade from Helsingborg to Helsingør. MS-1’s escape to Sweden, camouflaged as the tug boat “Sara”, was later turned into a film called “Sorte Sara” (Black Sara). The remaining four boats, including MS-2, which was in Kalundborg, were taken over by the Germans. MS-2 served the remainder of the war as German patrol boat VS 1211.
When Denmark was liberated in May 1945, the Navy found her in Nyborg and reclaimed her. After the war, all remaining MS-boats (apart from the burnt-out MS-4) were restored. They were armed with a 20 mm recoil gun on the poop-deck as well as equipment for mine-sweeping. Soon after the war, the nine ships were ordered to clear Danish territorial waters of all mines they could find, as they posed a grave danger to shipping. First of all, they had to ensure that the main shipping channels were free of mines and after that the less important waters had to be swept. For the sweeping of acoustic- and magnetic mines, Askø would tow a powerful electromagnet about 75 to 100 meters astern. At the same time she would tow a box, which produced a loud noise. The magnets and the “noise boxes” would cause mines to explode. Another method consisted of two minesweepers sailing in parallel with a cable between them, which was towed over the seabed. In 1951 all boats of the MS-class were given names of small islands, except for MS-1, which continued to be called “Sorte Maria” (black Mary). MS-2 was named “Askø.
Langelandsfort museum also received a GRENǺ ships-engine from Slipshavn. This engine is identical to Askø’s, but it has three fewer cylinders. The engine will be exhibited next to Askø, made operational and will be started-up on request. The propeller will also be attached.