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Russia revived the ‘monster’ to attract tourists

by Victoria

Once a headache for US intelligence during the Cold War, “The Monster of the Caspian Sea” is now expected to become a popular star.

The Lun-class Ekranoplan weighs 380 tons and is a hybrid vehicle between aircraft and ships. It is considered both a seaplane and an air-cushion ship, built by the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Cold War era, when Western intelligence discovered the existence of the Lun-class Ekranoplan. It has been given the nickname the Sea Monster of Caspi, and that title is widely used today.

In 1967, when the US military used a spy satellite to scan Soviet territory, they discovered something anomaly. It was a giant plane but its wings were too short to fly, featuring the letters KM. At that time, US intelligence relied on two KM to name this vehicle – the Kaspian Monster, and later changed it to the Kaspian Sea Monster. In fact, KM stands for Korabl Maket (ship prototype).

After more than 30 years lying dormant on the western bank of the Caspian Sea, the rusted “monster” was revived by Russia. The government plans to turn this old legend into a new tourist destination. Therefore, on July 31, the “monster” was escorted by a fleet of three tugboats and two escort ships for 14 hours to the coast near the southernmost 100 kilometers away. Its new, and possibly final, stop is next to the ancient city of Derbent, in the Russian republic of Dagestan.

According to the plans of the city government, the Monster will be the star of Patriot Park, a military museum and theme park, specializing in display of Soviet and Russian military equipment. The Caspian sea monster is expected to be a new highlight for Derbent, contributing to attracting tourists next to the old town and historic center of the city. These two sites have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Construction of the park is scheduled to begin later this year. Currently, Monster temporarily “sits” alone on the beach. When the Patriot opened, it wasn’t the only Russian museum to display an ekranoplan. Earlier, the smaller Orlyonok-class ekranoplan was on display at the Russian Naval Museum in Moscow.

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