|From 1701 the Danish Naval officers were educated at the Naval Academy. The education consisted of theoretical as well as practical elements and it can be seen as a precursor of the formalized non-military training of engineers. Every year four of the most gifted cadets were chosen to participate in a so-called educational journey to England, Holland and France, three of the most prominent seafaring nations of the 18th century.|
On these journeys the technically skilled officers gathered information on harbors, docks, slipways, ships and mechanical devices. Ships and installations were measured up and models were
made after the complicated machines. The officers also kept diaries with notes
on processing- and production methods. Through the Danish envoys this
information was sent to the Admiralty in Copenhagen, where the latest news in
the fields of science and technology was studied with great interest.|
The reports dealt not only with matters of maritime technology. They often also contained drawings and models of non-military technology, which were readily put at the disposal of the still embryonic Danish industry. In reality, the journeys were virtual acts of espionage, which could, had the secret been disclosed, have led to a prison- or death sentence for the officers involved. The Admiralty, however, chose to take the risk since the journeys saved the Danish State a great deal of money. Through this untraditional procedure Denmark succeeded in getting access to the newest technology without having to allocate large sums of money for research and development.
We now find the vestiges of the journeys of the naval officers in the Royal Danish Naval Museum and in the Danish National Archives. These are vestiges that bear witness to the technological accomplishments of the day but which due to wars and fires can no longer be found in other countries.