Video: Russian Tank Landing Ship Explodes at Port of Berdyansk
A Russian Navy amphib exploded and burned at the captured port of Berdyansk, Ukraine on Thursday, just days after Russian state media released video footage of military cargo operations at the pier. The Ukrainian Armed Forces confirmed in a social media message that the Russian vessel had been "destroyed" and promised that "there will be more," but did not describe the root cause of the casualty.
Video and imagery from Berdyansk shows that an Alligator-class tank landing ship - identified as either the Orsk or the Saratov - exploded at the port on Thursday morning. Secondary explosions followed for an extended period of time, consistent with combustion of a cargo of munitions.
Two other Ropucha-class tank landing ships - which had been berthed nearby - were seen exiting the port shortly after the blast. One appeared to have sustained limited damage to its superstructure.
Russian forces have been using tank landing ships to deliver military cargo to Berdyansk since last week, using the port to resupply the ongoing offensive along Ukraine's Sea of Azov coastline.
A webcam video from the southeast of the port appears to show that the first visible signs of trouble began with a small plume of white smoke, not a large initial blast from an incoming missile or bomb. The fire appears to have evolved into a much larger conflagration over the span of 10 minutes, with the smoke increasing and tall columns of flame occasionally visible.
Berdyansk pic.twitter.com/3EXxE4GWNw— Aldin ???????? (@aldin_ww) March 24, 2022
Imagery obtained by EU Sentinel satellites showed a large column of smoke and what appeared to be a fuel slick emanating from a berth on the southwest side of the port's main terminal.
Captured Ukrainian mariners released in prisoner exchange
The Ukrainian Armed Forces reported Thursday that the crew of the rescue tug Sapphire have been freed from Russian detention as part of a larger prisoner exchange for soldiers. 11 civilian Russian sailors who had been rescued near Odessa were repatriated to Russia. In return, Russian forces released the 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors of the rescue vessel Sapphire, who were captured while trying to retrieve Ukrainian troops from Snake Island on the second day of the invasion.
Under the agreement, the rescue ship will also be returned to Ukrainian custody and will be sent to a port in Turkey.