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I wish I were reading a happier version of this story

Has anyone else been guiltily transfixed by the mystery of Danish inventor Peter Madsen, his now-sunken submarine, and the missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall? I truly do not wish to make light of the fact that a woman is missing, presumed dead, but I was undeniably fascinated by the whole idea of a crowd-sourced, privately built submarine. In any other circumstances I would have been delighted to learn that such a thing existed.

Here are some news reports on the story:

Danish submarine owner arrested over missing journalist

Submarine in missing journalist case sunk on purpose, Danish police say

Kim Wall and Danish submarine: What we know and what we don’t

Police in Two Countries Searching for Woman Missing Since Sub Sank

When commenting, please bear in mind that a criminal investigation is ongoing – and that all should be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

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13 comments to I wish I were reading a happier version of this story

  • Mr Ed

    A submarine at sea is an extremely perilous environment, it is essential that it be crewed by competent mariners capable of reacting appropriately to every survivable eventuality, from collision, engine or system failure, disorientation and so on.

    The submarine sounds rather small at 40 tonnes, I’d want a bigger beast with a nice pressure hull to rely on, amongst other things, before wishing to try my luck as a future pilchard.

    They do seem to like secretive courts in Denmark.

  • ed in texas

    “Submarine… sunk on purpose”
    Isn’t that what submarines do?
    I always thought the ‘surfacing’ afterwards was the important part. It’s what I would be concerned about…

  • bobby b

    **Pedantry Warning!!**

    Crowd-funded, not crowd-sourced. Some of the articles use the terms as if they’re interchangable, but they’re not.

    I was sort of fascinated by the saga, too, starting back when he was fighting Copenhagen Suborbital for ownership of the sub. (Frustrating, as everything written about the story was in Danish.) This was a working sub that they had used “to push the company’s Sputnik rocket launch platform into position on a number of occasions.” Madsen had been part of that group and then got into a legal fight over ownership of the sub. (The crowdfunding was to fund the $200k he needed to renovate it.) Then, this reporter got onto the story, apparently got some information he didn’t like*, accepted a ride from him, and . . . she’s gone.

    I was curious as to what he was promising his investors in return for funding. I found his IndieGoGo page, and it turns out he was running it mostly as a charity donation, with special caps for $50 and guided tours (moored) for $100. (Passengers for hire would be strictly verboten.)

    (* – I should note that none of the articles I found contained these exact words.)

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed, ed in Texas, and bobby b have summed it all up.

    The only thing to add is sorrow over the death of the lady.

  • Laird

    I have to say, I am impressed by the depth of bobby b’s research on this.

    One pedantic comment on the OP: the “presumption of innocence” applies only to the legal system. As private citizens (not involved in the case in any way) we have no such obligation; we are entirely free to draw whatever inferences, and make whatever conclusions, we may desire. Of course, that is not to suggest that it is wrong to remind us that we don’t have all the facts, and that it makes sense to suspend judgment until we know more. Personally, I am always skeptical of news media reports, especially early ones, and moreover suggest that if one desired to dispose of a pesky reporter this would be a rather silly way of doing it. So my personal presumption in this matter is, in fact, innocence. But YMMV, as they say.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Presumably we can what we like unless we happen to live in Denmark.

  • PapayaSF

    Corners of the right-wing internet have seized upon the fact that Kim Wall was investigating the Clinton Foundation in Haiti, and so they’re adding her to the “Clinton Death List.”

  • Laird

    It pleases me to learn that, PapayaSF. You’ve brightened my day!

  • PapayaSF

    You’re very welcome! The wilds of the internet are often amusing. In a quick search, this is the closest thing I can find for evidence of that claim: https://innovation.journalismgrants.org/projects/can-tourism-save-haiti

  • bobby b

    Laird, there’s an interesting legal/insurance issue involved when you launch your own rockets from international waters and they travel over populated areas. That’s how I first knew about Copenhagen Suborbital.

    (Yes, this is probably the only time you will ever see the phrase “interesting legal/insurance issue” in print.)

  • Laird

    bobby b, that’s why if I were launching rockets into space I would do so from Belize. The trajectory would take the rocket over the Atlantic Ocean, and Belize is not a signatory to the International Space Treaty.

    And yes, there can indeed be “interesting legal/insurance issues.” A former law partner of mine once told me of a case he saw as a clerk to a federal judge, where a barge had broken free, run aground and hit a train. What law applies? Admiralty? Land? That’s the sort of case which makes law fun!

  • bobby b

    Just to close this one off:

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – A headless female torso was found on Monday in the water’s edge in Copenhagen, hours after a Danish inventor charged with killing a journalist in his home-made submarine told a court she died on board, police said.

    Peter Madsen told the court that Swedish journalist Kim Wall had died in an accident and he had buried her at sea, changing his earlier statement the he dropped her off alive in Copenhagen.

    Police later told a press conference that it was still too early to identify the body – missing its head, legs and arms – that was found by a passing cyclist.