The shipbuilding programm that finally led to the AXEL THORSEN was the implication of Danmark in the Napoleonic wars. In the first battle of Copenhagen in 1801 the Danes lost many ships to the English. To prevent the rebuilt Danish Fleet from joining Napoleon, in 1807 a British Fleet with 17000 soldiers sailed to Copenhagen. They issued an ultimatum to hand over the Danish Navy to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war. The ultimatum was rejected. The British encircled Copenhagen and bombarded it, until the Danes surrendered on 7 September 1807. All warships were taken or destroyed.
In the aftermath there were only a few large warships left in the Danish Navy. Because of this weak position and the long, defenseless coastlines of Norway, the kingdom's shipyards started to produce a flotilla of small gunboats.
Many of the Norwegian coastal defence vessels were schooner-rigged gunboats. They carried one or two heavier guns. To keep and adjust the position when firing the ships were equipped with a few oars.
One of the ships, the AXEL THORSEN, was launched at Trondheim on 28 April 1810. The schooner belonged to the coastal defence flotilla of that area until 1815. After that she was used as a fishery protection vessel in the Finmark. In 1839 she was sold and served as a commercial carrier. In 1864 she was used in the Swedish Spitzbergen expedition of Baron Nils Adolf Nordenskjold. After serving eight more years she was lost in the Arctic Ocean in 1872.