The port, which had recently been occupied by Russian forces with several Russian warships docked, was rocked by a series of loud explosions shortly after dawn.
Videos on social media showed fires raging across the wharf, with a series of secondary explosions reverberating across the city.
The Ukrainian armed forces said they had “destroyed a large landing ship”, which they named “Orsk”. in a Facebook post.
Several Russian ships have been unloading military equipment in Berdyansk in recent days, according to reports from the port by Russian media.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces said that in addition to destroying the Orsk, two other ships were damaged.
“A 3,000 ton fuel tank was also destroyed. The fire spread to the enemy ammunition depot. Details of the damage inflicted on the occupier are being clarified,” they said.
The United States has said Ukraine likely carried out a successful attack on Russian ships in Berdyansk, a defense official says, although it is unclear what type of weapon or weapons were used during the attack. It echoes a similar statement from the UK Ministry of Defence, which said Ukrainian forces had attacked “high-value targets” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including a landing ship and military depots. ammunition in Berdyansk.
Analysis of the videos uploaded on Thursday showed that it remains a ship of the Russian Navy the port shortly after the explosions.
The Russian Defense Ministry previously reported that “the large landing ship Orsk is the first warship of the Russian Federation to enter the port of Berdyansk. It delivered equipment – armored personnel carriers” .
“The ships of this project are very spacious and can carry a large amount of equipment, up to 20 tanks or up to 40 armored personnel carriers,” the ministry said.
He made no official comment on the explosion.
A day before it was consumed by fire, the Orsk was the subject of a long report on the pro-Putin television channel, RT.
The piece opens with a video shot from a drone, looking at the Orsk, which the journalist mentions by name. As the camera shows an armored personnel carrier being slowly lifted from the ship, the reporter says: “It’s a unique sight: a Russian naval armada in a port that Ukrainian troops had abandoned without a fight, leaving its facilities entirely intact. .
Later, standing on deck, the reporter reveals some of the ship’s armament, including two large naval guns, before detailing the ship’s primary function as a landing craft.
“The purpose of this ship is to transport troops and heavy equipment. It can carry up to 20 tanks or 40 armored personnel carriers, as well as hundreds and hundreds of soldiers,” he says.
“For the Russian operation to succeed, it is essential that the troops be constantly supplied and reinforced,” adds the journalist.
In an indication of why the loss of the Orsk could represent a significant setback for Russia, a Russian officer standing alongside said: “Our arrival here is a milestone. This opens up completely new opportunities for the Black Sea Fleet to utilize existing Ukrainian infrastructure. for our logistics operations.”
Berdyansk lies on the Sea of Azov and is about 70 kilometers southwest of Mariupol. The city has a small naval base and a population of around 100,000.
Mariupol still eludes Russian control despite being surrounded and beaten mercilessly, block by block, by Russian firepower.
Its defenders rejected a surrender ultimatum on Monday morning, thwarting a Russian effort to finalize a land bridge linking Crimea with breakaway republics in the eastern Donbass region.
Further west, the Ukrainians fought to retake the city of Kherson, as well as push back Russian forces from northeast Mykolaiv, forcing them to reposition south of the city, a senior US official said on Tuesday. of the defense.
The official warned that the United States cannot say whether the moves are part of a “broader operational plan” by the Ukrainians, but called Ukraine’s defense “nimble” and “nimble”.
CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych reported from Lviv, Celine Alkhaldi from Abu Dhabi and Gianluca Mezzofiore from London. CNN’s Nathan Hodge contributed to this report.