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USS Sulaco
USS Sulaco
troop transport
alloy polymer
Gravitational displacement:
Life support:
nitrogen, oxygen
6 decks, 4 flight


USS Sulaco is a troop carrier for the U.S.C.M.s. It appears in the films Aliens and Alien 3 and the video games Aliens: Colonial Marines, Aliens: Infestation and Aliens: Arcade.


Reference stats table.


Appearances in the following;
Aliens (film)
Alien 3 (film)
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Infestation
Aliens: Arcade
Alien Trilogy
Alien 3: The Gun

Other craft

UD4L Cheyenne
USS Sephora
USS Legato


Aliens (film)
After departing from Earth the USS Sulaco arrives at LV426, were the crew emerge from stasis and prepare for a reconn and airdrop. They descend to the surface leaving the Sulaco under automated control and set up command in Operations. Later after the Aliens attack they decided to nuke the entire site from orbit, Ferro crashes the UD4L Cheyenne as they set to leave which causes Bishop to remote pilot the second Dropship from the Sulaco. As they escape and land back aboard the Sulaco the Alien Queen emerges tearing Bishop apart and causing Newt and Ripley to run. Ripley reemerges and battles with the Queen eventually expelling it out of the airlock. The surviving four set course to return home.

Alien 3 (film)
The USS Sulaco appears at the beginning of the film, and as a fire starts aboard ship the crew stasis units are ejected into an EEV.

As the EEV detaches an alien egg appears in the EEV, as it landed the emerged Face Hugger attacks the sleeping crew and later it is found to of impregnated Ripley.

Aliens: Colonial Marines
The Sulaco as a continuing story of the film Aliens is boarded enroute to Fiorina 'Fury' 161, were Turk and Stone release Hicks from stasis just before PMCs arrive. Later they link up with Lisbeth who also out from stasis must find a way off the Legato. Lisbeth goes to find her parents while Turk and Hicks head for the Sulaco then a Service Skiff as Lisbeth decides to set the self-destruct as she find both parents dead. Later the Sulaco is returned around LV426 by PMCs were the USS Sephora arrives and docks along side.

In Aliens: Colonial Marines the USS Sephora docks along side the USS Sulaco in orbit around LV426. Winter's missions in the first level continues aboard the Sulaco, after the USS Sephora collides with the Sulaco it starts drifting towards LV426 and at the end of Sulaco Falls collides with the surface together with the USS Sephora.

Aliens: Infestation
Levels 1,3 and 5 are played aboard the USS Sulaco with USCMs Fox-Six, Fire Team Delta and Fire Team Echo. Fire Team Delta mission is Secure the Command Center, Fire Team Echo mission is retrieve the flight recorder and Fox-Six mission is to board the USS Sulaco, locate and identify the life form, then secure them and extract them back to the USS Sephora.

Returning aboard from LV426 the Sulaco is intercepting a Weyland-Yutani freighter containing cargo straight from LV426, getting to the gun batteries destroying it is required. An Alien Queen is aboard slowing the teams advance but by expelling it from the airlock allows them to continue. After returning aboard from Phobos and the Special Research Facility the teams need to kill any xenomorphs on the Sulaco including a queen before finally switching off the cooling regulators so the Sulaco can be destroyed.

Aliens: Arcade
After using the Dropship and making your way to the Sulaco, you play the final level aboard the USS Sulaco, here you need to kill the final Queen xenomorph by blowing in out of the airlock.


After departing from Earth in the film Aliens the USS Sulaco arrives at LV426. It stays in orbit until the surviving crew depart, appearing in the film Alien 3 not far from Fiorina 'Fury' 161. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines game, PMCs board the USS Sulaco and Hicks is replaced with Turk and ejected along with the other crew and the Sulaco is retured in orbit around LV426 it stays there until the USS Sephora arrives. Later the two spacecrafts crash into the surface of LV426 due to a sustained attack of the weapon systems of the Sulaco onto the Sephora. In the game Aliens: Infestation the Sulaco stays in orbit until it is destroyed.

USS Sulaco is in the Conestoga Class like the USS Sephora.

The USS Sulaco gained it's name from Joseph Conrad's book entitled "Nostromo", the location setting of the book in the town Sulaco.

Aliens: Infestation
In Aliens: Infestation a map is available on screen this is for keeping track of the rooms entered using marker flares if required, this layout shows the Sulaco has between 7 and 10 decks. Flight bays can be split in two, these suggest between 2 and 4 flight bays, with various hangers and multiple vents, corridors, laboratories and side rooms. Part of Fox-Six's missions is an EVA outside of the Sulaco, this allows them to continue towards the Queen in a hanger.

In Aliens: Infestation the Sulaco was said to be adrift near Gamma Leporis in the Outer Rim before it had been returned in orbit around LV426. In the final level the USS Sulaco is destroyed after the cooling regulators are put off line and the command override is initiated.

Aliens (film)
In the film Aliens the cargo bay is smaller in size then in the game Aliens: Colonial Marines, this cargo bay could be the aft suggesting the same size for the two different versions.

The following is the description of the USS Sulaco from a draft script from the film Aliens as it approaches LV426:

An empty starfield. Metal spires slice ACROSS FRAME. A
mountain of steel following. A massive military transport ship, the
SULACO. Ugly, battered... functional.

An empty corridor, seemingly miles long. No movement.
The THRUMMING of hyperdrive engines.

An enormous chamber, cavernous and dark. Squatting
in the shadows are two orbit-to-surface shuttles. DROP-SHIPS.
Heavy machinery all around them... cranes, loading equipment.

Dark electronic womb. CAMERA DOLLIES SLOWLY among
murmuring instrumentation. A sudden high-pitched TRILLING
accompanies a sequence of lights. An alarm.

Blackness, until a bank of indicators lights up. Hydraulics lift a grid
of equipment from a row of horizontal HYPERSLEEP
CYLINDERS. It reaches the ceiling. Locks. CLOSE ON RIPLEY'S
CAPSULE as trickles of water run down the frosted canopy.

Lit up, white and sterile.

"The Sulaco is so automated that it would be unnecessary. If another dropship was required, the APC was equipped to remote-pilot it down and so was the station on LV-426." ~ James Cameron Online 'Why didn't anyone stay aboard the Sulaco?'



Syd Mead who had worked on Blade Runner, drew on ideas from the Refinery in the film Alien to design and construct the Sulaco, initial ideas and designs were thought unusable when filming as they would effect camera shots and filming due to the spherical attachments. These were mainly sideway modules and antennas which protruded outwards from the body of the Sulaco, discussions with James Cameron in LA and with his ideas for the design allowed Syd Mead a route to focus on and finally designed a spacecraft that was 800' - 900' (245m - 275m) long. This final Cameron and Mead concept was described as a "rocket gun that carries stuff". A spacecraft that was streamline but also usable, retaining it's armament some was more futuristic then others, including a futuristic interior that wasn't too far in the future and believable as a spacecraft's fittings.

Syd Mead also draw the designs for the Dropship, these were altered by filming but kept the drop idea from the Sulaco and it's ability to carry marines and equipment, notably the APC armoured vehicle. These initial designs including the fold out wings were kept but the rest of the Dropship was redesigned and a more streamline spacecraft was chosen. Ron Cobb with James Cameron used ideas from the Vietnam war like the F4 Phantoms and Huey's, with these and the original ideas making up the final design.

Cardboard mock ups of the Sulaco, Narcissus and the APC were produced and filmed for pacing along with the story boards, these were smaller in size with models and filmed with a standard camera.



Peter Lamont production designer brought these ideas to life, building the Dropship and Sulaco sets. Using parts from Vulcan jets, Peter Lamont and his brother rented the undercarriage from a Vulcan Norfolk breaker for using on the Dropship with slip trays used as skid pads for the landing legs.

Ron Cobb designed the art for the Dropships from a script idea that the Colonial Marines were bug hunters and the Xenomorphs were the bugs. So using an eagle with boots on carrying a machine gun painted inside a red circle the slogan 'We Endanger Species ', naming the spacecraft Bug Stomper, also adding this design on jackets worn by the crew. The second Dropship was named Smart Ass, also with an eagle and the slogan 'We Aim By P.F.M', dressed in boots and carrying a large gun on a blue circle.

Further details in the dropship bay were rotary lights, these were made from a rotating bulb in a cylinder with a reflector at an angle, the effect gave the impression of a rotating spotlight.

For the spacecraft model only one side of the Sulaco was constructed on a 5' scaled model which was then sent off to the VFX company so it could be added in the scene as the Sulaco approached LV426. Later the scene with Queen falling out of the air lock was produced with stop motion photography.

Running short of funds the set crew and production designer Peter Lamont used the idea of a mirror giving the illusion of many more Hypersleep units aboard the Sulaco then there where. Use of wires and not pneumatics for the opening mechanisms speeded up construction and lowered costs, other parts of Mess and Hypersleep saw the use of vending machine parts and helicopter engines with the lockers redressed from other areas, Hypersleep and Ripley's quarters at the Gateway Station being the last scenes to be filmed.

Alien 3 (film)
It is later stated in the game Aliens: Colonial Marines that the cause of the fire aboard the Sulaco was due to PMCs (W-Y Commandos) boarding and starting a fire fight with researchers and Hicks, Aliens still aboard are injured during the attack from PMCs fire which cause the fires. In Stasis Interrupted the USS Legato intercepts the Sulaco with various xenomorphs aboard, the researchers also from the Legato assist Hicks but are too late for Ripley, in the confusion a researcher Turk falls in the stasis and is locked in as the stases are ejected.

From the draft and final script for Alien 3 but edited for filming was the description of a face hugger entering Ripley's Hypersleep by shattering the glass above her face (impregnating her), the glass cuts the face hugger's digits and acid blood hits the floor sizzling through it and wires, smoke raises and triggers the alarm and stasis units are ejected. Filming had smoke raising and setting the alarm, later in the EEV the face hugger made an appearance but with stasis unit intact.



Of the various EEVs produced, a 16' part model was used for filming against a blue screen were the EEV would detach from the USS Sulaco, before the 3' 6" model was used as the EEV then drifts towards Finora 'Fury' 161 filmed with stop motion photography.

The blue screen then allowed for matte paintings and CGI to be added when filming and in post production.

Michelle Moen matte department supervisor and Paul Lasaine matte painter painted all the matte backgrounds for the surface, sky and surface features. As the EEV drifts slowly away from the Sulaco and enters the atmosphere, crashing into the water. The crew used an ultraviolet light to give the clouds a glow against a matte painting of the sky, this was an animated shot with the water splash a digital shot.



In production a shaft was constructed so as to allow the jettison of the new units produced which slide along and using editing were shown ejected into the EEV.

Another 16' model of the EEV was used for interior filming on the set outside, used for filming the salvage and as Ripley returns to use her stasis' unit scanner.

The Sulaco from the film Aliens was used again later for the USS Patna as it approached the surface.

Aliens: Colonial Marines
Unlike Aliens: Infestation, gameplay is played on 4 main decks, in game, hangers for Dropships are positioned centrally (inline) and aft (side-by-side). A schematic for the Sulaco shows 4 hangers with the bridge aft, this is similiar with the schematic for the Sephora. Unique to the Sulaco in the game are Service Skiffs which also appear aboard the Sephora, these are used in the opening sequence and in the level Stasis Interrupted.

USS Sulaco's Decks
This is the configuration of the Sulaco from the game Aliens: Colonial Marines, it could suggest there is a similiar format in other games and spacecrafts (different from Aliens: Infestation).


Computer Servers.jpg
Service Rail.jpg

Central Command
Computer Servers
Bridge (behind gun)
Service Rail
Escape Pod


Life Support.jpg
Life Support2.jpg
Service Rail.jpg

Prep Room (exit through 6D)
Access Hatch
Cargo Bay M21 (exit through 3D)
UD4L Cheyenne
Cargo Bays 2/3
Hyper Sleep
Weapons Storage
Life Support
Cargo Rail
Service Rail


Coolant Storage.jpg
Fusion Control.jpg

Power Generator
Quarter Master
Coolant Storage
Fusion Control
Operational Control
Central Engineering

Aft Cargo

Service Rail.jpg
Air Control.jpg

Cargo Bay 03
Service Rail 02
Service Rail 03
Hanger 02
Hanger (UD4L Cheyenne suspended)

These are the details for the USS Sulaco from official schematics, this layout shows the Sulaco has between 4 and 6 decks. Flight bays can be split in two, these suggest between 2 and 4 flight bays.

Sensor array
Flight deck and main cargo hangers
Hanger doors
RV magazine
Life support
ASAT missile bay

Dorsal rail gun turret
Lithium hydride tanking
Particle beam gun
Port laser array
IR masking tower and comm antenna
Ventral rail gun turret
UD-4 Dropship
Dropship hanger

Cooling tower
Fusion torus
Drive section

Pylons up to 90m length.

Weapon Ranges
ASN's and particle beams can engage targets at great distances.

Life Support
Sufficient capsules for up to 90 crew and passengers.

Cargo Hangers
Access is via five 25x10m loading doors on either side of the hull.

Power Systems
The Primary Power System is a Westinghand A-59 Fusion Reactor with a maximum generating output of 3.6 Terrawatts.

Drive Section
The Sulaco has a Dual Drive system for 'faster-than-light' FTL and sublight travel and maneuver.

Main Armament:
ASAT missiles
Anti-satellite missiles

Secondary Armament:
Neutral particle beams

Short Range Armament:
Dorsal and ventral turrets


The film Aliens is set after the events of the film Alien, Ellen Ripley having killed the Alien goes into stasis aboard the Narcissus only to be found drifting in space 57 years later.

The events of the film Alien 3 are set after Aliens, Ellen Ripley having survived the detonation of the Atmosphere Processor with Bishop, Hicks and Newt escape to the USS Sulaco only for a fire to start, causing their stasis units to be ejected into an EEV and soon after landing on Fiorina 'Fury' 161 a prison planet.

The events of the game Aliens: Colonial Marines are set between those of the films Aliens and Alien 3 but diverge from the film Aliens and over lap the film Alien 3.

The events of the games Aliens: Infestation and Aliens: Arcade are set around those of the films Aliens and Alien 3 both include Hadley's Hope and LV426.

See also



Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens (film)
Building Better Worlds - From concept to construction
Aliens - Post Production Visual Effects
Alien 3 (film)
Stasis Interrupted