In 2008, Danish inventor Peter Madsen launched what was, at the time, the largest privately built submarine in the world. The 40-ton, nearly 60-foot-long craft was three years in the making and took nearly $200,000 in private funding to create. A self-described “inventrepaneur,” Madsen’s company RML Spacelab dabbled in rockets, fireball generators and launch pads, calling itself a place “where nothing is impossible and where science and innovation meet practical engineering.”
On Friday, Madsen’s submarine – dubbed the UC3 Nautilus – was reported missing when it failed to return from a trip and was not responding to radio contact. Helicopters and boats combed the sea and eventually spotted the Nautilus, but the submarine suddenly sank a short time after, resulting in a private motorboat rescuing Madsen.
According to the AP, Madsen said "a minor problem with a ballast tank" — a compartment that holds water to provide stability — "turned into a major issue" that ultimately caused the submarine to sink in a span of about 30 seconds.
Madsen expressed his disappointment over the loss of his prized vessel, but the real story here is much worse: immediately after the rescue some questions began to arise when it was determined that the last person to be seen on the boat with Madsen, a Swedish journalist named Kim Wall, was missing. Madsen told police that he had dropped Wall off earlier in the evening after she had been on board the submarine observing it for a story assignment. Despite his version of events, police were skeptical and since then they’ve actually arrested Madsen on preliminary manslaughter charges.
The Nautilus itself was dragged from the sea but did not yield any definitive results as to where the woman was. Police and military agencies are combing the Copenhagen Harbor where she was last seen, and asking the public for help. Madsen still denies having anything to do with her disappearance.
I’m Anna Wells and this is IEN Now.