The USS Sulaco was a Conestoga-class troop transport ship in service with the United States Colonial Marine Corps. It was most notably used in the investigation of the Hadley's Hope colony on LV-426 in 2179, when it was manned by Lieutenant William Gorman's combat unit of Colonial Marines.
The Sulaco was considered an unlucky ship and had something of an infamous reputation in the USCM. It was ultimately commandeered by Weyland-Yutani PMCs and destroyed in orbit above LV-426 in a confrontation with another Conestoga-class vessel, the USS Sephora.
The USS Sulaco was involved in a major operation on the planet Linna 349, where it was struck by two ASAT missiles — the only fleet vessel to be damaged while in orbit. This incident gave the vessel something of an unlucky reputation amongst the USCM, a reputation that was fortified when the ship was later involved in a docking accident at Gateway Station that caused the loss of five crew members. It was even suggested that the Sulaco's reputation led to most crews simply outright refusing to use the ship.
Mission to LV-426Edit
In 2179, the Sulaco was dispatched to LV-426 following the loss of contact with the colony of Hadley's Hope. Upon reaching the moon, the small contingent of Colonial Marines and advisors on board deployed to the planet's surface aboard the dropship Bug Stomper, leaving the Sulaco in orbit on automatic pilot. Following the discovery of a Xenomorph infestation at Hadley's Hope and a disastrous ambush that decimated the Marines on the surface, the Sulaco's backup dropship, Smart Ass, was readied, fuelled and brought down to the surface via remote control by Executive Officer Bishop, allowing the few remaining survivors evacuated.
Upon returning to the Sulaco, the survivors discovered that the Xenomorph Queen from Hadley's Hope had stowed away aboard Smart Ass. Ellen Ripley engaged the Queen in the Sulaco's hangar bay in a Power Loader used to load ordnance onto the dropships, eventually ejecting the Queen into space through an airlock. The sole surviving Marine, Corporal Hicks, sent a distress call back to the USCM before the remaining personnel entered hypersleep.
Journey to Fiorina 161Edit
On the return journey to Earth, the Sulaco was boarded by Weyland-Yutani personnel led by Michael Weyland with the intention of discovering more about the Xenomorphs and what exactly had happened during the ill-fated mission. Weyland's commandos captured Hicks and replaced him in his cryotube with an unidentified male. Soon afterwards, an electrical fire started in the ship's hypersleep chamber, started by a Facehugger that had stowed away on board. The occupied cryotubes were jettisoned in an EEV, which subsequently crash-landed on Fiorina 161.
Return to LV-426Edit
The Sulaco was later boarded again by personnel under Michael Wayland's command and returned by them to LV-426, where it was apparently used as a confined environment in which to study the Xenomorphs. The ship was eventually discovered by the crew of the USS Sephora, who had been sent to investigate the events on LV-426. As Sephora Marines boarded the Sulaco, it became apparent the Xenomorphs being studied on board had escaped confinement and overrun the ship. Various sections of the ship were turned into localized Hives where many of the Colonial Marines were cocooned and impregnated with Chestbursters.
As the Colonial Marines from the Sephora attempted to combat the situation, surviving Weyland-Yutani personnel used the ship's weapon systems to open fire on the Sephora, instigating a pitched orbital battle. The Sephora was ultimately destroyed in the surprise attack, with the resultant explosion heavily damaging the Sulaco as well, leading to its ultimate break-up in LV-426's upper atmosphere.
- Lieutenant William Gorman - A09/TQ4.0.56124E3 [K.I.A.]
- Bishop (341-B) (Synthetic) - A17/TQ2.0.35117E5 — Executive Officer [Deactivated]
- Gunnery Sergeant Al Apone - A19/TQ4.0.32751E8 [K.I.A.]
- Corporal Dwayne Hicks - A27/TQ4.0.48215E9
- Corporal Colette Ferro - A71/TQ9.0.09428E1 [K.I.A.]
- Corporal Cynthia Dietrich - A41/TQ8.0.81120E2 [K.I.A.]
- Private First Class William Hudson - A08/TQ1.0.41776E3 [K.I.A.]
- Private First Class Jenette Vasquez - A03/TQ7.0.15618E4 [K.I.A.]
- Private First Class Daniel Spunkmeyer - A23/TQ6.0.92810E7 [K.I.A.]
- Private Mark Drake - A23/TQ2.0.47619E7 [K.I.A.]
- Private Rico Frost - A17/TQ4.0.61247E5 [K.I.A.]
- Private Tim Crowe - A46/TQ1.0.98712E6 [K.I.A.]
- Private Trevor Wierzbowski - A14/TQ8.0.20034E7 [K.I.A.]
Behind the scenesEdit
The Sulaco is named after a fictional town in Joseph Conrad's 1904 novel Nostromo (the name of which was used for the USCSS Nostromo in the original Alien). A number of other ships in the franchise are named after elements from Conrad's works as well, including the Patna (from Alien3), the USS Verloc (from Aliens versus Predator 2), the USS Marlow (from Aliens vs. Predator) and the USS Sephora (from Aliens: Colonial Marines).
Some social sciences research into the Alien franchise's symbology has considered it significant that Sulaco in Conrad's Nostromo is the home of the white owners of the silver mine figuring in the book, while the Sulaco in Aliens transports soldiers to investigate unknown troubles at a corporate outpost of Weyland-Yutani and to protect the investment - drawing parallels between the corporate owners in Conrad's work and the shadowy business entity forming a central part of the Aliens franchise.
Syd Mead, a principal conceptual designer on Aliens, first designed the Sulaco as a massive sphere, a "heavily armed cargo ship, outfitted to transport material". James Cameron was not satisfied, as having a spherical model move past the lens would have required variable focus; he produced a quick sketch of the style of ship he imagined and noted that he was imagining something like a "a forest of antennae enter[ing] the frame, followed by the enormous bulk of the SULACO".
While some claim that the basic shape was based on a submarine, the design has most often been described as a 'gun in space' due to the elongated form resembling the Pulse Rifles used in the movie - with Syd Mead agreeing that (in addition to Cameron's preferences) this was one of the reasons for the switch from the spherical form. Other film analysts have remarked on how the opening shot of the ship as something sinister and weapon-like presages Ripley's transformation during the movie into a warrior figure, akin to the hardened Marines the Sulaco already carries. The opening shot of the ship travelling through space has also been called 'fetishistic' and 'shark-like', "an image of brutal strength and ingenious efficiency" - while the rigid, mechanic, militarized interior of the Sulaco (designed by Ron Cobb) is contrasted to the somewhat more organic and friendly interior of the Nostromo in the first movie (also designed by Ron Cobb). Other sources have also noted the homage the initial scenes pay to the opening tour through the Nostromo in Alien, particularly in the extended Special Edition cut.
Mead has denied rumors in the fan community that actual scientific research had been done into how a futuristic spaceship might work. As an example, he noted that the idea for the early spherical design had nothing to do with creating centrifugal gravity, as such problems had evidently already been solved by science by the time of Alien.
- Originally, the Sulaco was going to be seen partially exploding at the start of Alien3 after the EEV jettisoned, signalling its destruction. While the models for this scene were built, it was apparently scrapped before filming, although the sequence appeared in the novelization of the film.
- In the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines, players have the ability to explore the armory and hypersleep chamber aboard the Sulaco. However, there are numerous errors with the name tags on the lockers found there, several of which are attributed to Marines that did not exist in the film (these names likely reference members of the development team on the game, a common practice, as well as a humorous locker belonging to Private "S. Villarreal"). Furthermore, some of the Marines from Aliens have a locker in the hypersleep chamber but not the armory. Private Tim Crowe's locker also has a nameplate that incorrectly reads "S. Crow".
- Aliens (First Appearance)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (video game)
- Alien vs. Predator: Redemption