Denmark – Milton

Denmark – Milton

First new trawler for Hirtshals in 36 years

When the previous Milton was delivered by a yard in Hirtshals in 1981, nobody suspected that it would be 36 years before a local builder would next deliver a new built fishing vessel.

Text, Terje Engø. Photos, Terje Engø and Linn Indrestrand

Now Jan Woller’s new Milton, the latest in a long series that carries this name, is about to be completed in Hirtshals. Owner Jan Woller is someone special – he’s a man who has a lifelong involvement in both the local community and the profession of fishing. For Jan Woller, it was important that the new Milton should be built in Hirtshals, although today the concept has stretched. Building locally means outfitting, and the construction of Milton’s hull was contracted to the PTS yard in Poland and brought to Denmark to be completed at the Hirtshals Yard.

Until 2012 the yard that is one of the port’s key features was owned by Wärtsilä Denmark A/S, and as the company went through restructuring that included divesting itself of activities that were not seen as part of its core business, the decision was made to close the ship repair facility. While the yard with its landmark covered dock risked being shut, departmental manager Rasmus Brohus and project manager Jesper Reinholt put together a package to acquire the yard’s facilities and establish Hirtshals Yard, supported by many local suppliers who had a strong in interest in the yard remaining in business.

Milton steaming across the harbour for the first time from the Hirtshals Yard

Five years on, Hirtshals Yard is doing well and taking on a varied range of projects – including outfitting Jan Woller’s Milton.

‘The local fishermen need facilities like this yard, and all the other service providers in the harbour. Without them, it will be difficult to have a sustainable fishing industry in Hirtshals. So, I felt obliged to have the local industry in mind when ordering the new vessel and all its equipment,’ Jan Woller said.

‘Of course, not everything needed is produced here in Hirtshals. But what is not produced here, is delivered and installed by local companies or companies in the region. This doesn’t mean I’m prices that are too high. Local companies are both very competitive and willing to negotiate.’

Fourth Milton


Jan Woller is a third-generation fisherman, following his father and grandfather to sea. His wife Berit is also from a fishing family and she is a co-owner of the boat. While Jan is at sea, she takes care of the paperwork – and when Jan is not at sea, he spends his spare time working for the industry and the rights of fishermen as the vice-president of the Hirtshals Fishermen’s Association. Regardless whether he is at sea or ashore, life is about fishing.

‘The contract for the first fishing boat named Milton was signed the same day I was born. Now the fourth Milton is only weeks away from starting fishing,’ he said as we sit on board the 16.99 metre long, 5.88 metre beam trawler at the Hirtshals Yard’s quayside.

In fact, Milton should have been completed in late June, but there was a delay in delivery by the PTS yard in Poland, followed by the summer holiday season when skilled people are less easy to find, and everything slowed down.

But Jan didn’t push too hard. He’s an old school fisherman who expects things to be done right, and is very much aware that a fishing vessel isn’t something you pick off the shelf. As the vessel will be his second home, spending days and nights on board for years to come, he prefers to take his time and make sure things are right.

‘It’s better to spend some extra time to get the vessel as I want it. It’s more expensive and time-consuming to make modifications later on,’ he said.

‘To start with, I was looking for a boat that would meet my requirements, with everything designed as I wanted it. I’ve also agreed for Milton to be on display in Aalborg during the DanFish International fishery exhibition that takes place from 11th to 13th of October, as this is a great opportunity for both the yard and the companies involved in building the new vessel,’ he said.

‘That also guarantees the boat will be ready by then, as none of them want to miss that opportunity,’ he laughed.