All that is known of the origins of the DNA Ship is that it was from a later period of Earth's history and crewed by a human — who died after the DNA-transforming machine on board caused him to grow three heads. It only appears in the episode "D.N.A."
This was an unnamed vessel of extremely advanced construction — so much so that Rimmer assumed it belonged to aliens intent on returning Glenn Miller. Its most notable feature, however, was the advanced machine for the transmogrification of human DNA. This machine was so advanced it could turn, say, a human being into a chicken and back again without lasting effects - which it did to Dave Lister when the Cat started messing with the controls.
It could also turn a mechanoid into a human being, if there were even the slightest organic material used in the mechanoid's construction. Kryten used the DNA machine to become human for a time, if somewhat accidentally. This inspired Rimmer to use it to clone himself back to life using a sample of his original DNA, but this plan was thwarted when the only sample he could find was a piece of dandruff that was lost when the Cat sneezed.
However as the Dwarfers discovered the DNA transforming machine could also malfunction; for example, when Lister tried to turn a mutton vindaloo into a chicken vindaloo, it reanimated the dead organic matter creating into a ravenous snarling beast (referred to as "the Mutton Vindaloo Beast" or the "Curry Monster"). Lister then used the DNA machine to turn himself into a Robocop-esque cyborg (albeit one only a few centimetres tall) so that he could battle the Curry Monster. In the end, Lister killed the Curry Monster by exploding a can of Leopard Lager in its mouth, as lager is "the only thing that can kill a vindaloo".
Lister and Kryten used the DNA machine one last time to revert back to their original states. They did not use it again, presumably because it was too dangerous. The DNA ship was presumably released and allowed to drift as it was not seen again.
- In the both cases it malfunctioned, Holly was operating the DNA machine, which may explain why.
- It is possible that the DNA Ship is referenced in the Series VIII episode "Krytie TV". The Canaries are sent to investigate an unnamed derelict, where they encounter a GELF with three heads; however this is not seen, but talked about in the Canary shuttle. It is implied that Kill Crazy saw to the end of it.