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Red Dwarf (ship)

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"Who would steal a gigantic red trash can with no brakes and three million years on the clock?"
- The Cat (RD: Psirens)

Jupiter Mining Corporation
Red Dwarf
Type Jupiter Mining Corporation

Solar Class Mining Ship

Origin Jupiter, Earth

6 miles (10 km) long, 5 miles (8 km) tall, and 4 miles (6 km) wide with over 2000 levels 120 cubic miles (480 cubic km)

Crew Complement 169, 1,169 or 11,169(Depending on source)
400 inmates in the restricted prison on Floor 13, originally due for transport to Adelphi 12
Current Crew Numbers 4
Top Speed 200,000 mph (original specs), Over lightspeed (fastest clocked time)

The JMC mining ship Red Dwarf (briefly renamed the SS Howard Rimmer in Trojan) is a massive spaceship, the central setting of the franchise and namesake of the show. Her crew make up the main characters of the show.

Red Dwarf is the background for the Series I DVD Cover, whilst other series use other ships and locations from the show as backgrounds.

Early yearsEdit

The JMC Red Dwarf is an enormous mining craft roughly the size of a large city and It's one of the oldest and largest vessels in commission for the Jupiter Mining Corporation, crewed by the Space Corps and commanded by Captain Frank Hollister. The ship was designed to be far longer and larger but this design was changed after the JMC made considerable cutbacks. The resulting Red Dwarf was a short hexagonal prism painted a deep, blood red. At the ship's front is the Front Ramscoop that collects traces of hydrogen in space.

Lister inside Red Dwarf's front ramscoop in RD: Fathers & Suns

The Engine Core powers it, and the Ramscoop would allow the ship to theoretically keep running forever with an endless source of fuel. There is also a large number of solar panels and battery back-ups but However, due to the massive drain of power these could only maintain the ship for a few weeks without the main engines.

The ramscoop and front is protected by reinforced "carbon-carbon" heat-shields, capable of withstanding solar radiation, minor asteroid impacts and interstellar dust storms, and some form of unspecified device which reduces the force of acceleration, so that the crew inside are not squished by the speeds of the ship (likely a form of stasis-based technology, like with much of the cargo and water supplies). Red Dwarf also creates its own artificial gravity, although it is never explained how (a hangar bay sign in the episode "Backwards" gives a warning on activating the HyperDrive on the shuttles within the "Gravity Field" of Red Dwarf).

Red Dwarf also had a Self-Destruct System, but Holly got rid of the bomb ages ago. Pree would later try to destroy the ship by disengaging the carbon-carbon heat shields and trying to fly the ship into a star.

Much of the earlier history of Red Dwarf is unknown, but its crew mined and ferried ores between the colonies of Earth's Solar System, such as Jupiter, Io, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, Mimas, Miranda and Triton at the edge of the Solar System. Officer Todhunter also claimed that it was equipped and stocked for interstellar flight. At some point what appears to be two asteroids collided with and embedded in the bottom of the ship, or this perhaps was intentional (i.e. for mining purposes) since two small moons were clearly and deliberately imbedded when the ship was recreated by the nanobots. By the time Dave Lister became part of the crew, the age of Red Dwarf had began to show, as it was one of the slowest ships in commission and technical faults were numerous. The Cat once referred to it as a "rusty tin can with three million years on the clock".
4762193 f260

Early model shot




The CGI ship used in the remastered episodes, and in Series VIII after being reconstructed by nanobots

The Red Dwarf sapce ship as seen in series 10

Red Dwarf in Series X

Controlling much of the ship's systems is the main AI, Holly, who originally had an I.Q. of 6000. Holly usually appears as a balding man's head floating in a black background on the many screens on board (apparently he modeled the face on the greatest lover of all time). Holly controls and navigates the ship, maintains power levels and, most importantly, ensures the crew's mental and physical safety (or tries to, given his computer senility). The JMC On-Board Computer could run the ship in Holly's absence.

The ship had a population of 1,169, this contradict Frank Todhunter's claim of 169. The novels state that the crew numbered 11,169. The ship also contains service robots called skutters that number in the thousands. These take care of most faults aboard except for incredibly useless tasks such as cleaning clogged chicken soup machines, which Second and Third Technicians of Z Shift take care of, mostly because it is said to be below them and they supposedly have a better union than the technicians. There are dozens of Vending Machines, garbage droids, and an array of artificial intelligence.

Of the 3000 floors in the ship, most are devoted to cargo, food and water, with the hold containing enough food to last 10,000 years at full crew and massive tanks storing supplies of water. Vending machines everywhere in the ship instantly deliver food from the lower levels. These machines either accept coins, or the crewmember's personal credit, accumulated from work.

Due to the massive power drain, Red Dwarf can only sustain one hologram at a time, usually the deceased crewmember most crucial for the mission at hand. As such, the appearance and personality of the entire crew is downloaded to disks and cataloged, with Holly having instant access.

For entertainment, the ship contains many bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cinemas. Despite its size, there are only two Stasis booths in the ship to freeze crew in time on interstellar flights. The ship has signs labeled in both English and Esperanto.

For minor infractions (e.g. smuggling contraband/unquarantined animals aboard), crewmembers are sent into stasis for a set, unpaid period. Paint detail, involving repainting the exterior of the ship, has also been known to be effective (although this is probably meant to be a joke because painting a starship while in space is impossible as paint will not stick to a cold surface; it is unknown whether the writers of the series knew this or not). Major infractions earn a period in The Tank, the ship’s classified prison on the restricted floor 13.

Due to the age of the ship, Red Dwarf can only do a max speed of 200,000mph, making a trip from Mimas to Triton then back around to Earth take around 4 and a half years. However, after gradually speeding up for three million years after the accident, Red Dwarf broke the light barrier shortly after Lister came out of stasis, before Holly was able to slow it down again.


Starbug BM SizeComp

Size comparison between Starbug and Blue Midget, the two main shuttle types aboard Red Dwarf. Taken from the Red Dwarf Remastered version of Bodyswap, Series III.

Red Dwarf has dozens of shuttles (ship-to-surface transport vehicles) on board, of which are divided into four main types. In order of size, smallest-to-largest, they are White Midget, Blue Midget, Starbug, and White Giant, with many of each available mentioned in the television series, but only one of each mentioned in the novels. They are parked in the shuttle bays.

In Series VIII, there is also the prisoner suicide squad shuttle, the Canary shuttle, which is likely a nanobot-rebuilt White Giant along with most of Series VIII.

Of the two main types of shuttle used in the television series, Blue Midget was introduced in Series II, and Starbug in Series III. Many crucial scenes are played out in them. Having lost Red Dwarf, the Boys from the Dwarf spend Series VI and Series VII aboard Starbug. The final fight with the Simulant Generals in the last episode of Series X takes place with the crew in Blue Midget.

In the seriesEdit


Red Dwarf mission badge


Later mission badge

Il fullxfull.278674720

Mission badge variant

At the series start, the crew of the Red Dwarf was lost after a Cadmium 2 radiation leak wiped out the crew except Dave Lister who was sealed in stasis at the time. The incident was apparently caused by Arnold Rimmer's failure to repair the faulty drive plates. However, it is made clear that Rimmer was not really to blame, as his own arrogance and self-loathing caused him to believe he was responsible. His exact role in the accident differs from media to media, with him playing no part in the books. The TV series settles that though Rimmer had some part in the leak, his superiors were more to blame for assigning such a crucial task to someone so incompetent and unqualified.

As the crew died, Lister's pet cat, Frankenstein, who Lister was sent to stasis for protecting, was safely sealed in the ship's hold. As millions of years passed, the cats evolved, bred, and formed an entire society in the ship's cargo levels, surviving on the sealed food on board after one discovered how to use a can opener. The cats eventually developed a religion based on Lister and Frankenstein, with Lister altered over time to Cloister the Stupid, a god who will lead the cats to the promised land Fuchal, which really was Lister's dream to open a farm and hot dog diner on Fiji, complete with funny hats with arrows through the head. The cats soon began a bloody holy war over what colour the hats should be (red or blue, though Lister wanted them to be green). After many losses on both sides, both factions left Red Dwarf in shuttles to find Fushal following what they believed to be star charts (which were actually Lister's laundry list), leaving behind their sick, disabled or useless.

Three million years after the accident, Holly released Lister from stasis and explained what happened. Due to the lethal amount of radiation in the ship, Holly kept Lister locked away until it was safe to free him and directed the ship away from Earth as per regulation to prevent further deaths. By the time Lister is free, Red Dwarf is in Deep Space, far from any mapped area, and now clocked its maximum speed to above or around light-speed. Holly's isolation during this time resulted in him developing computer senility. To keep his only remaining crew member sane, Holly resurrected Lister's bunkmate Rimmer in the form of a hologram. Holly reasoned that the conflict between the two would help Lister forget he is the last human alive. The Cat, the last of the Felis sapiens, who was born from a cripple and an idiot left behind on Red Dwarf, joins the two. Later, the group found Kryten, a Series 4000 mechanoid serving on a derelict vessel, the Nova 5. The group spends their time lazily as Holly guides the ship back to Earth, indulging in the ship's vast food supply and salvaging derelict ships for needed supplies.

A few years into this journey to Earth, Red Dwarf was stolen from the small crew by an unknown force, and they were reduced to dwelling onboard Starbug. During this time the hologram version of Rimmer gained a solid body (Legion), and later leaves. Soon after, at a temporal rift, the crew pick up an alternate version of Kristine Kochanski - Navigation Officer and Lister's ex-girlfriend and lasting obsession.

Red dwarf planetoid

Starbug on the planetoid which was once Red Dwarf in "RD: Nanarchy", Series VII

They eventually discover that Kryten's nanobots, part of his self repair system, stole Red Dwarf due to boredom. Reshaping the ship to a smaller size, they turned the excess material into a planet, leaving any unneeded equipment on the planet's surface, including Holly. Once caught, Kryten made the nanos rebuild the ship. To make up for their earlier mutiny, the nanos rebuilt and improved Red Dwarf, returning it to its original intended design before the JMC's cutbacks, which included several new floors, a quark level matter/antimatter reactor, a bio-neural computer network and a Karaoke Bar on C Deck. Unknown to the group, Holly created a second set of nanos to resurrect the crew.

Some time after the group was sent to The Tank, Red Dwarf picked up an escape pod, which contained a Chameleonic Microbe that began to eat the ship from the inside out. Their attempts to find an antidote failed and Red Dwarf is last seen crumbling to pieces with the crew having fled and the group escaping to a parallel universe.

Nine years later Red Dwarf is found to be still intact, though changed, much more like the original cutback version, even regaining the impacted asteroid. The original non-resurrected crew of Rimmer, Lister, Holly, Kryten, Cat, and Kochanski had somehow returned and saved the ship. During those nine years Lister went off the rails, and began to engage in acts which Kochanski saw as slowly killing himself. Depressed by this, she flew off in a Blue Midget (the ship somehow regaining shuttles), with Kryten telling Lister and the others that she had been sucked out of an airlock.

Rimmer is once again a hologram, though one with the memories of both the hologram and nano-resurrected Rimmers, and Holly is out due to a large amount of water damage caused by Lister leaving a bath running those whole nine years. The skutters are still trying to dry it out and reboot the computer, the larger resurrected crew are apparently still out there somewhere in their escape craft. After a bout with a Despair Squid, Lister learns of Kochanski's escape and vows to find her and win her back.

Locations aboard Red DwarfEdit

Deck Plan I&II

Deck plan for Series I and II (which took place mostly around the mid-section of the ship) including the location of the original Drive Room, Z Shift sleeping quarters and other rooms respective of each other.
Deck plan courtesy of Daniel Barker of Barker Studios Entertainment.

to be completed

Known original crewmembersEdit

Miscellaneous crew membersEdit

To be completed with crew from the novels

Security, prison guardsEdit


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