Spoiler Alert: Article contains some important information regarding the plot of season 1 & 2 of The Expanse television series
The writers maintain that the ships in this series are built according to practicality, rather than aesthetics, as other science fiction shows have done in the past. That being said, some of the ships in The Expanse do look visually stunning and here are some of the ships we like the most.
My first thought on the Donnager was that it had a cool name that grows on you; a ships name is pretty important afterall. We didn’t see too much of the Donnager in action, apart from it getting destroyed by the mysterious stealth ships in the first season. It was our first real look at the inside of a Martian vessel and it was very sleek and ordered, as we’d expect of a Martian ship.
Questions were raised about how the pride of the Martian Navy was destroyed fairly easily, given the Martian’s pride themselves on their toughness and the array of weapons on board the ship. The Captain, Theresa Yao, explained all when she said the ships weakness was its lack of experience in battle and it was clear that the Martian’s were arrogant and confident in their superiority in not neutralizing the threat quickly enough.
The MCRN Scirocco is a Martian vessel that is responsible for destroying Phoebe station in order to stop the UN getting to it first. It enters a race with the UNN Nathan Hale to reach Phoebe, and ends up destroying it with nuclear weapons to stop the Nathan Hale reaching it first. We meet some important Martians aboard the Scirocco, such as Lieutenant Sutton, Captain Martens and Commander Thorsen. We also meet Bobbie Draper on board, who is eager for conflict with Earth.
The Scirocco, which means an African breeze coming over the Mediterranean, is badly damaged above Ganymede after the incident involving the Protomolecule occurs on the surface.
UNN Nathan Hale
The UNN Nathan Hale is a UNN battleship names after a spy for the Rebel Colonial faction led by George Washington during the American Revolution. He was eventually caught and executed by the British. He is supposed to have said that he “regrettably only had one life to give for his country”.
The ship is commanded by Captain Yvgeny, who is described by Avasarala as a man of restraint. The ship is heavily armored and has railguns and torpedoes at its disposal.
After the Eros incident, where Julie Mao is persuaded to crash Eros into Venus, Earth sends a vessel to check on the landing site. To avoid confrontation with Mars, they sent an unarmed research vessel and attempted to send probes to the surface to monitor what was happening. The Protomolecule, upon impact, had started to develop into something unnatural and the Arboghast was determined to find out what. They travel close into the orbit of Venus, but come to an abrupt stop before reaching the surface. The ship momentarily comes apart, disaggregated, before all hands are lost.
The Nauvoo is a very interesting ship indeed, at least in the sense of its purpose. The Nauvoo is being built at Tycho Station by Fred Johnston, leader of the OPA, and paid for by the Mormons who intend to use the ship to leave the solar system and travel to another one to find a new home. The ship is being built to be entirely sustainable and to spin to create gravity. After the Eros incident, where the protomolecule tries to drive Eros to crash into Earth, Fred Johnston makes a decision to crash the Nauvoo into Eros and divert it, but the plan fails. I won’t go too much into what happens next (you’ll have to read the books!) but the Nauvoo does have a future.
Named after the Egyptian god of the underworld, the Anubis is stealth warship that took part in the destruction of the MCRN Donnager and the Canterbury. It was built with contracts from high-ranking and corrupt UN officials, who aimed to assist Protogen in their development of the Protomolecule. Julie Mao spent time confined to a storage locker on The Anubis, and eventually escaped to discover the Protomolecule had killed and consumed the crew. The Anubis was eventually destroyed by the Rocinante after they take over the ship and secured the protomolecule.
“It was long, lean and black, and looking like a shark. Its radar-deflecting curves gave it an aerodynamic look almost always lacking in space-going vessels. Utterly black, it was almost impossible to see against the backdrop of space with the naked eye.”
The Anubis has a large central compartment, as high and wide as the hull of the Rocinante, which housed twelve huge torpedo tubes cylinders for capital-ship busters encrusted with narrow catwalks and scaffolds.
The Expanse story starts on the Canterbury, an enormous hauler that is home to a complex mix of individuals looking to make a living in space. It is here that we meet most of the main characters of the story and the future crew of the Rocinante. The Canterbury is lured by a distress signal sent by the crew of the Anubis, and then destroyed by it, although some of the crew were on an away mission at the time and survived the destruction.
“A behemoth of a ship, the Canterbury is a retooled colony transport. Once it had been packed with the people, supplies, and dreams of a civilization, shipping our ancestors beyond the moons of Saturn. Now, the Canterbury flies in a shadow of its former grandeur, hauling glaciers to supply mankind with the essential water it needs to survive.”
Last but not least we have the Rocinante. The Roci, as it is affectionately known, is where a great deal of the action from the second season takes place. It is a former Martian ship, the Tachi, which escapes the destruction of the Donnager with Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex; our damaged heroes.
The Tachi is then renamed The Rocinante and given new codes, with the help of their sponsor, Fred Johnston, who will use the Rocinante and its able crew to further his own cause. She is a gorgeous ship which is heavily armed and well respected. Alex Kamal is a first class pilot saves the crew on more than one occasion, and the crew is more of a family than a group of spacefarers in a galactic conspiracy.
Although Holden states in Leviathan Wakes that he named the Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse from the novel Don Quixote, the name is also used in the song “Cygnus X-1” by Rush, from the album ‘A Farewell to Kings’, a band Ty Franck is a big fan of, because of the following lyrics:
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way
On my ship, the “Rocinante”
Wheeling through the galaxies.
Rocinante is Spanish for a work horse or low-quality horse, but can also mean an illiterate or rough man. Pronounced: ‘Rah-sih-nahntay’ (or ‘Rahsee’ for Roci).
Tachi is a Japanese word and may have the following meaning in a military context. Tachi: A type of sword predating the Katana. A Tachi is slender, narrow and light. Tachi means literally “to rise”, “rising up to face battle”. In the TV show the crew’s uniforms show a Chinese “motto” or alternative name for the ships.