Dead Bodies Floated at the Bottom of the Barents Sea, Then There Was a Handwritten Note That Revealed a Horrifying Story

The Kursk tragedy

Three crew members who were aboard Kursk taking photos with their wives — image from MrBallen

A handwritten note was discovered at the bottom of the Barents Sea in 2000. The note was written by Dmitri Kolesnikov, a captain-lieutenant.

Dmitri knew he was going to die in a few hours, but he was brave and calm enough to write a note of his experience.

He wrote,

“It’s dark here to write, but I’ll try by feel. It seems like there are no chances, 10–20%. Let’s hope that at least someone will read this.

We feel bad, weakened by carbon dioxide. Pressure is increasing in the compartment.

If we head for the surface, we won’t survive the compression. We won’t last more than a day.”

The Russian Major Naval Exercise

Thirty-three Russian best warships took part in a big military naval exercise on 12 August 2000.

The exercise took place on the Barents Sea, a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. It’s located off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia and is divided between Norwegian and Russian territorial waters.

In the exercise, the submarines played out war scenarios.

For instance, one ship played the role of an enemy’s warship. The other ships tried to block the enemy ship and shot at it.

But they used dummy torpedoes to shot.

The man in charge of the operation, Fleet Commander Admiral Popov, was on one of the thirty-three warships.

Kursk Asked for Attack Permission to Conduct a Torpedo Training

One of the warships, Kursk, requested permission to fire dummy torpedoes at one of the warships.

Popov authorized the launch by responding with “Dobro” (“Good”). Then Kursk prepared to fire two of its dummy torpedoes at their target.

Twenty-four hours later, Popov excused himself from the training for a while. Popov spoke to Russian news reporters on the phone.

There was a rumor that something bad had happened to one of the submarines.

But Popov assured the media that the training exercise was going exactly as planned. It appeared like it was going to be a success.

The families of the crew that took part in the training were reassured that there was nothing to worry about.

The following day, Russian officials addressed the rumor on a TV news broadcast.

It turned out that the rumor was true.

One of the Submarines Was Stuck at the Bottom of The Sea

Kursk had experienced some minor technical difficulties and laid at the bottom of the sea.

But there was nothing to worry about as this was normal. And the officials stated they were working hard to get Kursk back on the surface in no time.

Also, Kursk had a reputation.

It was one of the best warships in the sea. Russia had spared no expense in its construction.

It was a huge warship built using high-grade steel and rubber, allowing it to withstand a direct hit from a real torpedo. It was also equipped with the latest technology on the inside.

The submarine was deemed unsinkable.

However, now that it had sunk, the submarine was constructed so that there was no need to panic.

Hours Turned Into Days

Days passed without any updates about Kursk.

The victims’ family members began to panic. The media began to speculate about what they thought had happened.

On 21 August, a Norwegian diving team intervened.

Rescuers managed to enter the submarine through a hole that was made in the submarine. They were met by a shocking sight.

Kursk was completely flooded. And the front part of the submarine had blown away.

There were bodies floating in the ninth compartment of the submarine.

There was dust and ash inside the compartment, which made it difficult to see.

NB. Kursk was divided into nine watertight compartments. The first was at the front, and the last was at the back.

What Happened in Compartment Number Nine?

Three crew members who were aboard Kursk taking photos with their wives — image from MrBallen

The reason why we know what happened inside compartment number nine is because of Captain-lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov.

Dmitri was a twenty-seven-year-old man married to a high school teacher.

Dmitri was born into a family of submariners. He dreamt of becoming one himself, and he did.

Then he received orders to serve aboard Kursk four months prior to the training exercise.

Dmitri was stationed in the seventh compartment, which was the engine room. And he was the team leader in that compartment.

Dmitri and his team members prepared for the launch of the dummy torpedoes.

Meanwhile, the first compartment was used for the launch. Then Dmitri and his team members heard a sudden loud rumbling sound.

There Was an Explosion On Kursk

Wreck of Russian submarine Kursk (K-141) in a floating dock at Roslyakovo — image from WIKIMEDIA

Somehow, a malfunction occurred during the launch, and one of the torpedoes exploded.

A second explosion occurred a few minutes later. This killed everyone in the first five compartments of the submarine.

The submarine sank under before crashing on the floor of the sea.

The survivors in the remaining compartments all moved to the ninth compartment, the last one at the back of the submarine.

The power in the submarine was still working for a while.

Although the submarine doors were sealed airtight, the walls were no longer waterproof. The second explosion had pierced the walls of the submarine, and water was flooding inside.

Dmitri Wrote Notes of The Ordeal

Captain-lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov — image from MrBallen

Dmitri knew he could die in a few hours, but he was brave and calm enough to write a note of the ordeal.

The remaining compartments filled up one after the other.

The recovery of Dmitri’s letter indicated that twenty-three men remained alive several hours after the explosions. That was the total number of men in the ninth compartment.

They couldn’t escape from the submarine because they couldn’t open the escape hatch.

Dmitri also knew they wouldn’t survive the compression if they headed to the surface.

“If we head for the surface, we won’t survive the compression. We won’t last more than a day…

All personnel from sections six, seven, and eight have moved to section nine. We have made the decision because none of us can escape.

Regards to everybody, no need to despair.” Dmitri wrote.

The Rest of the Crew Members Later Died

Then suddenly, the power in the ninth compartment went out. Water also started seeping inside. And the temperatures inside the ninth compartment dropped.

Dimitri and the other men knew it was a matter of time before the compartment filled with water.

Dmitri pulled out his paper again and wrote private notes to his wife and family.

Then he wrote the last letter of what was happening before he folded the paper and put it in his breast pocket.

The paper was later recovered from his body.

The Aftermath

According to experts, the entire submarine flooded eight hours after the explosion.

This meant that the surviving victims could’ve been saved if the response to the accident had been faster.

It was hours later when the Russian navy realized that Kursk was gone. It took more hours to locate it. Then attempts to enter the submarine were unsuccessful.

Russia initially refused foreign aid before accepting it days later. That’s when the Norwegian diving team intervened.

Russia rewarded all of the 118 Kursk crew victims with the order of courage. And the victims’ families received free housing in any Russian city of their choice.

They also received a ten-year salary each. And their children’s university fees will be paid for by the state.

Sources:,, MrBallen