The Type 337 Emergency Escape Vehicle (EEV) is a model of escape pod manufactured by Bodenwerke Gemeinschift. It is the standard escape vehicle fitted to United States Colonial Marine Corps vessels, including the Valley Forge-class, Conestoga-class and Bougainville-class starships. With a carrying capacity of five, the Type 337 is capable of supporting automated cryo tube ejections, whereby personnel are evacuated from the parent vessel within their hypersleep chambers at the command of the ship's on-board computer, without being woken. This process takes as little as 45 seconds. It is also possible for conscious personnel to board themselves and launch the pod manually.
The EEV is 13.2 meters long with an 'L'-shaped configuration. It can withstand atmospheric re-entries and has landing capabilities to ensure a safe touchdown on a planetary body, although it is not unknown for these systems to fail, an often fatal occurrence.
The Type 337 had its origins in sweeping directives laid down by the Interstellar Commerce Commission designed to standardize all starship escape systems in response to recurring problems in starship emergency evacuations. Unfamiliarity with varying escape equipment, procedures and protocols often resulted in preventable loss of personnel. The Type 337 is the fruit of these standardization efforts and is the standard escape vehicle employed aboard most USCM spacecraft.
The Type 337 EEV is a small escape vehicle capable of carrying up to five passengers. It is 13.2 meters long with an 'L'-shaped configuration. Along the trailing edge of the craft are three large titanium support struts which house ICC standard retaining lugs for connection to the mother ship. The EEV's underside is latched directly to the mother ship's escape hatches and access is made through these hatches via a large docking ring. The asymmetrical 'L' section contains life support systems and the pod's drive section, both of which are connected to the mother ship via an outboard umbilical until the moment of launch. The vehicle's hull is made from carbon, alloy and ceramic composites able to withstand severe re-entry angles and is fitted with external salvage clamps to allow for the removal of individual cryotubes within by rescue ships. As standard, the Type 337 is fitted with a NcMary OV-122 Flight Recorder, which records flight data not only for the EEV itself, but also the mothership to which it is attached.
Mission profiles for the EEV can vary according to the situation. In the event of a disaster aboard the mother ship, the decision to abandon is usually by the vessel's commanding officer. However, the nature of interstellar space flight, including long periods where the crew is in hypersleep and inactive, means evacuation procedures are also able to be initiated by the ship's computer, with designated crisis management hardware controlling the process. The ICC sets rigid protocols for these crisis management systems to ensure that the evacuation of the ship is indeed initiated when, and only when, failure to do so would result in loss of life. If this point is reached, the computers on the mother ship will automatically send out a distress signal and begin the escape procedures.
The Type 337 EEV is noted for its flexibility and reliability, although the nature of space disasters makes egress from a starship a hazardous occurrence nonetheless. Despite advances in EEV technology, many lives are still lost. Escape procedures are so elaborate that the malfunction of just a single component (quite possible when a starship is suffering a catastrophe) can jeopardize the entire evacuation. Even if all systems function perfectly, there is no guarantee of a successful rescue from the vastness of space. However, some chance of survival is better than none, and as such EEVs like the Type 337 will continue to be standard equipment aboard space-going vessels.
EEVs are kept on a permanent 30 second standby. As soon as the decision to abandon ship is made, all EEV units on board will begin preparing for departure. As evacuation procedures begin, the escape vehicles' computers will boot up their command computers and have mission data downloaded to them from the mother ship's mainframe. Should the crew be in hypersleep during the emergency, there may not be sufficient time to rouse them, and as a result the ship's computer will automatically disconnect their cryotubes and drop them, via a series of transport shafts, down to the escape hatches where they will be autoloaded aboard available EEVs. As soon as the capsules are aboard, they are plugged into the EEV's own life-support system. Once crew members, conscious or otherwise, are safely aboard the EEV's computer logs out of the mother ship's network and initiates launch procedure.
At launch minus five seconds, if no abort signal is provided by the mother ship, the retaining lugs securing the EEV to the parent vessel's hull are pulled clear and the outboard umbilical detaches. At launch minus two, the primary hull latches around the docking ring release, leaving the vehicle attached only by two explosive retaining bolts. At launch minus zero, the escape vehicle's computers blow the remaining bolts and the pressure of the mother ship's atmosphere propels the EEV clear of the ship. Assuming an automated cryotube ejection, the entire EEV evacuation procedure, from the decision to abandon to the time of launch, takes no more than 45 seconds.
As soon as the EEV is clear of the mother ship, the on-board computer initiates search and rescue procedures, activating a powerful distress and location beacon whilst simultaneously scanning the immediate sector of space for a suitable landing site or a rescue vessel. In an optimal escape situation, the post-launch flight pattern and landing site would have been pre-determined by the mother ship's mainframe prior to launch; however, the EEV's onboard systems are fully capable of making these decisions themselves, and can even override the mother ship's decisions if a more suitable alternative is detected.
Generally, the EEV will attempt to home in on the nearest navigational beacon (such as a space station or a colony world) and set a course for that location. The Type 337's hyperdrive unit has a range of approximately 1.4 parsecs and the guidance systems will ensure that the vehicle retains sufficient thruster fuel for an in-system docking or a powered re-entry. Since the EEV's life support capabilities are limited, any crew loaded in hypersleep will be maintained in that state for the duration of the journey, with the pod's computer monitoring their status through the use of internal bio-function monitors and catscanners. While these limited life support abilities may seem to place conscious crew at a distinct disadvantage in an escape situation, the nature of modern space flight procedures tends to ensure that crew will only be awake and active when the mother ship is already near a potential point of rescue.
If a rescue ship appears within scanning range of the EEV, the on-board computer will attempt to hail the ship via its communications beacon and will maneuver to rendezvous with it. If there are no rescue ships in the vicinity, the EEV will continue on to its selected destination and, if necessary, will attempt a planetary landing. The Type 337 has sufficient fuel reserves for a single powered re-entry, but not enough to sustain prolonged atmospheric flight. Therefore, if a colony beacon is detected, the EEV will remain in orbit until it can follow the colony's landing beam directly down to its landing pad. If no such beam exists, the EEV will instead select a suitable landing site from orbit and attempt a touchdown there.
The Type 337 is a 'dead drop' vehicle designed to fall unpowered from orbit until it reaches a lower atmosphere, where it will use its thrusters to break its descent. At this point, the EEV will deploy its tricycle undercarriage and uses its remaining fuel to set down at the landing site. If planetfall is made on an uninhabited or unexplored world, the EEV's computer may elect to keep the crew in hypersleep to await a rescue. However, in most cases the EEV will revive the crew once a touchdown is achieved. If the crew survives touchdown and find that they have a prolonged wait for a recovery, the EEV's cabin is equipped with storage lockers containing essential survival rations and first aid equipment.
Behind the Scenes
The EEV was originally far more ship-like in design, essentially being a small craft that docked with the Sulaco akin to the Narcissus lifeboat in Alien. The final design, envisioned as a part of the Sulaco's hull that would separate when launched, was created by Norman Reynolds and was in fact based on an unused concept by Ron Cobb for an escape capsule in Alien.
- In Alien3, it is never stated why the EEV crashes fatally on Fiorina "Fury" 161 even though EEVs would presumably have to be fitted with some form of automated landing system (otherwise they would be essentially useless). However, the film was originally going to show how the Sulaco partially explodes as the EEV jettisons, with the concussion from this explosion damaging many of the escape unit's vital systems, including its guidance and landing capabilities. This is why it slams into Fiorina's ocean instead of setting down gently on land. While cut from the film, this sequence was included in the novelization.
- In the video game Aliens vs. Predator, a burning Type 337 from the USS Marlow is found crashed in the jungle; evidently its guidance and landing systems failed in much the same way as the EEV in Alien3.
- The Type 337 EEV is often labelled the "BD-409 EEV"; this alternative name originated in the Alien3 Technical Readout section of Alien3 Movie Special #2. This article, which pre-dates the Colonial Marines Technical Manual from which the EEV's actual name is taken, was written by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, who was also the author of the Colonial Marines Technical Manual. The name was evidently retconned for the later publication, although exactly why this might be the case is unclear.
- Alien3/novel/comic (First Appearance)
- Alien3: The Gun
- Alien Trilogy
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual
- Aliens versus Predator (video game)
- Aliens: Original Sin (mentioned only)
- Aliens vs. Predator (video game)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines/Stasis Interrupted (video game)
- Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
- Deep Black
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