Flotsam – August

Home / Flotsam – August

to volume overview

News About the Criminal Case on Board a Sunken Danish Amateur Submarine

On August 21st, Peter Madsen’s lawyer Betina Hald Engmark announced the changed statement of her client. It has already been reported that the Danish submarine inventor no longer claims to have landed the missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in Copenhagen on the evening of August 10, around 10:30 p. m., but the concrete content of Madsen’s changed statements remained unclear.

According to his new statements, an accident aboard the submarine led to the death of Kim Wall. He later threw the corpse into the water at an unknown place in Køge Bay, allegedly to bury it at sea.

Madsen’s lawyer also said that her client is still very much affected by the events, but now is very relieved that his new statements have become public. She could not give any information on the concrete reasons for Madsen’s original false statement, except that “generally people react differently to traumatic events”. “We believe that he tells the truth, when he states that she [Kim Wall – ed.] died on board the submarine “commented Copenhagen police chief Steen Madsen. According to a spokesman for the Danish police, the still ongoing search for the journalist’s remains is now concentrated on an area south of Öresund Bridge.

Crime Case Aboard a Sunken Danish Amateur Submarine

On the evening of August 10, 2017, a Danish amateur submarine, the UC 3 Nautilus, was reported missing. A large-scale search by the Danish Armed Forces remained unsuccessful until Nautilus was spotted by four anglers at about 10:30 a. m. the next morning. Half an hour later, the submarine suddenly sinks. The only person on board the submarine at that time, its designer, the prominent Danish engineer, inventor and inventor Peter Madsen, was rescued by the anglers and put ashore. The Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who went on board the night before, however, has disappeared without a trace despite an intensive search.

In the afternoon of August 12, Peter Madsen is arrested on suspicion of the negligent killing of Kim Wall and has been in custody since then. He denies the allegations, but offers the police his cooperation. About the same hour the wreckage of the UC 3 Nautilus was also lifted and later investigated by the Danish police as evidence or crime scene. On August 13, at a press conference she announced that no corpse had been found in the boat and that after the investigation it was convinced that the sinking had been deliberately brought about. On 16.08. the charge against Madsen was aggravated from negligent killing to manslaughter.

The last Cruise of the Nautilus

The private Danish submarine UC 3 Nautilus left Refshaleøen in the harbour of Copenhagen at 7 pm . Photos document that two persons were on board: the designer and owner of the submarine Peter Madsen and the Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who worked on a story about him. 90 minutes later they were photographed again, this time about 5 nautical miles south near the island of Saltholm off Copenhagen by a tourist from a cruise ship . In a tweet at 9:51 pm, the Danish Armed Forces announce for the first time that they are in search of the private submarine Nautilus.

Das privat gebaute UC 3 Nautilus mit seinem Konstrukteur Peter Madsen (r.) nach Probefahrten im Hafen von Kopenhagen im Juni 2008. Foto: Joachim Michaelis/flickr, Nutzung durch CC BY-NC 2.0

Around 22:30 hrs Madsen then contacted his crew members via SMS and cancelled a trip to Bornholm planned for the next day. Questions by his crew on the cause for this remained unanswered. After Kim Wall had not returned home to her boyfriend as agreed, she was reported missing by her boyfriend around 02:30 a. m. on the night of August 11th. At this point in time at the latest, the search for Nautilus has started. The dark painted submarine was not equipped with any position lights or lighting and could hardly be spotted in the dark.

Around 04:00 a. m. the Danish police contacted the crew members of Nautilus to determine whether they were on board the missing submarine.

In the Køge Bay, about 10 nautical miles south of its last known location, Nautilus was spotted around 10:30 am by four friends who had set out on a fishing trip by boat that morning. These testified that they first informed the police by mobile phone and then approached the submarine. They said they have seen that Madsen was on the tower and called him to see if he was all right. He is said to have replied that so far everything was all right, there was only a small thing he had to repair “downstairs” and got down into the boat. After he returned to the tower a minute later, the submarine started to sink quickly. Immediately after being picked up by the four anglers, Madsen would have identified a defective valve of a diving tank as the cause of the sinking. He said that he had been alone on board. He claimed to have landed a Swedish journalist in Refshaleøen in Copenhagen at about 10:30 p. m. the previous evening. However, Madsen later revoked this statement in police custody.

Peter Madsen

Born in 1971, Peter Langkjær Madsen is a prominent Danish engineer, and inventor. As he has said in various Danish television youth programmes, his greatest dream is to be the first Dane to shoot himself into space on a self-built rocket. He was a member of the Danish Amateur Rocket Club at an early age and has been experimenting with various rockets since 1995. In 2008, he was a founding member of the Copenhagen Suborbitals, a purely private, non-profit initiative that has set itself the goal of bringing a human being first into space and then back to earth safely again. In doing so, it wants to inspire people to try the seemingly impossible. Moreover, according to their own statements, the only amateur space program in the world is great fun. By 2014, various experimental rockets had been successfully tested on a minimal budget. In August, the latest generation of Copenhagen suborbital missiles, the Nexø II, is scheduled take off from a launch platform in the Baltic Sea.

In 2014, Madsen fell out  with his colleagues from the Copenhagen Suborbitals, so he left the initiative to pursue his great dream with his own company, Raketmaden’s Rumlaboratorium, Rocket Madsen Space Lab.

In October 2014 he received the “Never like the other” -Prize for individuality for his works from the Danish gastric bitters “Gammel Dansk”, which now is produced exclusively in Norway.

In addition to rocket construction, the construction of submarines is another field of activity for Madsen. He has developed three submarines so far:

UC 1 Freya

When UC 1 Freya undertook its first trials in Copenhagen in 2002, it was Denmark’s first amateur submarine. It was simple in design, but proved to be effective in use and manoeuvrable. It was powered only by an electric motor. It has never dived deeper than 15 m, although its assumed depth of destruction is 135 m. After more than 400 dives and participation in various maritime events, the boat was put ashore in 2006 and scuttled in the Øresund in autumn 2009 after removal of all pollutants.

Year of Construction 2000
Shipyard private construction at Copenhagen
Displacement less than als 10 t
Length 7.5 m
Beam 1.0 m
Height 2.9 m
Propulsion 1 electric engine, 1 Propeller
Engine Power 3.1 kW
Speed 3.5 kn/ 2.5 kn submerged
Range 3 sm
Diving depth 15 m
Fuel 1 200 Ah / 24 Volt Setronic – Fiamm GS Gel Akku
Armament none
Complement 1

UC 2 Kraka

UC 2 Kraka at the port of Copenhagen in May 2008. Photo: Joachim Michaelis/flickr,  CC BY-NC 2.0

This design was derived from UC 1 Freya. The boat was about twice the size of its predecessor. It has a diesel-electric drive on one propeller shaft and a diver’s airlock. It was designed for an maximum operating depth of 40 m. After more than 50 dives it was put ashore in 2009 and has been on display at the Danish Technical Museum in Helsingør since then.

Year of Construction 2006
Shipyard private construction at Copenhagen
Displacement ca. 9 t
Length 12.6 m
Beam 1.7 m (hull without diving planes 1.0 m)
Height 2.9 m
Propulsion 1 Diesel engine, 1 electric engine, 1 propeller
Engine Power 50 kW (68 PS)/ 6 kW submerged
Speed 9 kn/ 3 kn submerged
Range 40 sm / 3 sm submerged
Diving depth 100 m
Fuel less than 50 l, 1 400 Ah / 24 Volt Setronic – Fiamm GS Gel Akku
Armament none
Complement 2

UC 3 Nautilus

In May 2008, UC 3 Nautilus and UC 2 are carrying out manoeuvring tests in the port of Copenhagen. Peter Madsen can be seen on the foredeck on the right. Photo: Joachim Michaelis/flickr,  CC BY-NC 2.0

UC 3 Nautilus was lifted into its element by a crane on 3 May 2008 after a construction time of approx. 3 years and costs of approx. 200,000 €, which were raised by crowdfunding. It was the world’s largest civilian submarine at that time. After 3 months of completion and equipping, it was able to make its first trip with its own engines in August 2008. After several tests Nautilus made its first dive trip in October 2008. In spring 2009 a snorkel was retrofitted. This year, a delegation of the leading Internet site on submarine and naval simulations, subsim.com, as well as computer game developers of the submarine game Silent Hunter V from Ubisoft, visited the boat. In the following years UC 3 Nautilus was used for private purposes and some expeditions. In the summer of 2010, the boat went on its longest journey to date pushing the floating rocket launch platform Sputnik of Copenhagen Suborbitals from Copenhagen to Nexø, a port on the east coast of Bornholm. After this trip, UC 3 Nautilus remained in the port of Nexø for several months. There, when the batteries were charged, a deflagration occurred, which damaged the boat so badly that it could not return to Copenhagen on its own power. At the beginning of 2011 it was then towed to Copenhagen to undergo a general overhaul and modernization of several years. A special support association was founded for this purpose. After some work had been done this association transferred the submarine to Peter Madsen personally on 15.04.2015 once more after falling out with each other. Only on 28.04.2017 UC 3 Nautilus could be launched again. On 11.08.2017 the boat sank under unprecedented circumstances south of Copenhagen. It was lifted by Danish police authorities and confiscated as evidence.

Year of Construction 2008
Shipyard private construction at Copenhagen
Displacement 42 t
Length 17.76 m
Beam 2.0 m
Draught 4.3 m
Propulsion 2 Diesel engines, 1 electric engine, 1 propeller
Engine Power unknown
Speed max. 9 kn
Range ca. 150 sm / ca. 15-20 sm submerged
Diving depth 100 m
Fuel 1,500 l
Armament none
Complement up to 8