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Divers Retrieve Kursk’s Log Book

November 9, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ In the latest grim find from the sunken submarine Kursk, Russian officials said Thursday they were studying fragments of a ship’s log recovered by the divers who pulled 12 bodies from the wreck.

``We recovered what we could _ certain notes and the log book from the fourth compartment of the Kursk,″ the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov as saying.

He didn’t give any details about the log or the notes. The divers earlier recovered two other notes written by sailors trapped in an intact rear compartment after explosions tore the sub apart and sank it Aug. 12.

One note, from an as-yet unidentified sailor, described 23 crew members as suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning from a fire and despairing of reaching the surface due to the crushing water pressure at a depth of more than 330 feet. The other note, by Lt. Dmitry Kolesnikov, was similar and described writing by feel in the dark.

Klebanov’s spokeswoman Oksana Onishchenko said the divers found only ``unreadable″ fragments of the log. ``There was nothing related to the accident,″ Onishchenko said.

The log was retrieved by divers who cut holes in the hull in a risky 18-day operation on the bottom of the Barents Sea.

All 118 men aboard died. Most of the bodies were not recovered because they were either destroyed by the explosions or unreachable in the tangled wreckage.

The log book was found in a forward area more severely damaged by the blasts, where crew are not thought to have survived more than a few minutes.

It was unclear whether the log was for the whole ship or just the fourth compartment. Ship’s logs usually contain notes on routine activity.

Klebanov did not say when it was found. Divers worked in the fourth compartment Sunday and Monday, before the operation was called off Tuesday because of rough weather and danger to the divers.

The fourth compartment held sleeping quarters, a kitchen and meeting rooms.

Russian officials have said the diver’s main objective was to retrieve corpses to return to their families for burial. But Klebanov said divers also looked for clues about the accident.

Klebanov said Wednesday dents on the Kursk’s hull may be evidence of a collision with a foreign vessel, a theory Russian officials have focused on. Independent experts have said an explosion in the torpedo compartment was a likely cause of the accident.

Update hourly