After lying dormant for more than three decades, the Caspian Sea Monster has been on the move again.
One of the most eye-catching flying machines ever built, it's completing what could be its final journey.
In July of this year after 14 hours at sea, a flotilla of three tugs and two escort vessels maneuvered slowly along the shores of the Caspian Sea to deliver their bulky special cargo to its destination, a stretch of coast near Russia's southernmost point.
It's here, next to the ancient city of Derbent, in Russia's republic of Dagestan, that the 380-ton 'Lun-class Ekranoplan' has found its new, and most likely definitive, home.
The last of its breed to sail the waters of the Caspian, 'Lun' was abandoned after the 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union, condemned to rust away at Kaspiysk naval base, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) up the coast from Derbent.
But before it could fade into oblivion, it's been rescued thanks to plans to make it a tourist attraction right at a time when this unusual travel concept could be poised to make a comeback.
Ground Effect Vehicles, also known as "ekranoplans," are a sort of hybrid between airplanes and ships. They move over water without actually touching it.
The International Maritime Organization classifies them as ships, but, in fact, they derive their unique high-speed capabilities from the fact that they skim the surface of the water at a height of between one and five meters (three to 16 feet).
They take advantage of an aerodynamic principle called "ground effect."
This combination of speed and stealth -- their proximity to the surface while flying makes them difficult to detect by radar -- got the attention of the Soviet military, which experimented with several variants of the concept during the Cold War.
Their deployment on the vast inland body of water between the Soviet Union and Iran led to them acquiring the nickname "Caspian Sea Monster."
The "Lun" ekranoplan was one of the last designs to come out of the Soviet ground effect vehicle program.
Longer than an Airbus A380 superjumbo and almost as tall, despite its size and weight, the Lun was capable of reaching speeds of up to 550 kilometers per hour (340 mph) thanks to eight powerful turbofans located on its stubby wings.
This formidable machine was even able to take off and land in stormy conditions, with waves of up to two and a half meters. Its intended mission was to conduct lightning sea-borne attacks with the six anti-ship missiles it carried in launch tubes placed at the top of its hull.
The ekranoplan that has been moved to Derbent is the only one of its class ever completed and entered service in 1987.