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Forerunner Dreadnought
Production information



Unknown (referred to as 'Dreadnought')



Technical specifications

11.41 kilometers (7.09 miles)


13.18 kilometers (8.19 miles)


14 kilometers (8.70 miles)


37,654 tonnes[1] (83,013,000 pounds)

Slipspace Drive


Power output

Capable of powering all of High Charity while not at full generating capacity


Very powerful Forerunner alloy, able to withstand over four Magnetic Accelerator Cannon rounds and hundreds of missiles from Longsword fighters[2]

Sensor systems



Unknown; The High Prophet of Truth’s flag ship is heavily armed (seeing as it was able to smash through an entire Sangheili Fleet by itself); Forerunner fleets had the capability to cause stellar collapse.


Unknown (1,000+ as stated in Halo: Contact Harvest)[3]

Year introduced

Forerunner-Flood War (At least 97,448 BCE)


Forerunner-Flood War, Sangheili-San 'Shyuum War, Human-Covenant War

The interior of the ship.
"I've remotely destroyed our Keyships. A security measure. Without them I cannot reach the Ark. But neither then can the thing."
Librarian to the Didact

The Forerunner Dreadnought, colloquially known as the Forerunner Ship, was a Forerunner Keyship.[7][1]The Keyships were a large part of the Forerunner strategy against the Flood, as they were the only vessels capable of activating the Portal to reach the Ark.

One of these Keyships would miraculously survive the Forerunner-Flood War to be found and used by the Prophets, and would later become an integral part of the Covenant religion, as well as power for the Covenant Holy City, High Charity.



The Forerunner Dreadnought was a geometric and angular warship, sharing many aesthetic features with other Forerunner constructs. Generally, it had a tetrahedral shape, with a forward triangular prow, and attached to it at equidistant points are three similarly shaped struts, to help ground the ship. Visually, its hull was gray or silver in color, and was estimated to be about 14 kilometers (8.699 miles) tall, [8] 37,654 tons in weight, far heavier than leisure craft, but outweighed by a variety of transport and military vessels.[1]

The Keyships were an integral part of the Forerunner-Flood War, and were used as warships in confrontations such as the Battle of the Maginot Sphere, and were also used to travel through Portals to the Ark. Although their weapons systems are unknown, one Keyship was found and used by the San 'Shyuum during the Sangheili-San 'Shyuum War, and was far superior to Sangheili vessels of the time. At the time of the Human-Covenant War, the same Dreadnought was completely impervious to even the heaviest of UNSC ship borne armaments, specifically the Magnetic Accelerator Cannon systems. The Forerunner Dreadnought has been known to carry over 1,000 beings,[3] which is believed to be only a fraction of its full carrying capacity.

It consists of thousands of rooms, many of which are docking bays and control rooms, including a command chamber where the Prophet of Truth resided which was many stories high. It had many lift rooms which were similar to the ones in the towers in the Halo 3, level The Covenant.


The history of the Forerunner Dreadnought is quite extensive, going back to about 100,000 years.


Forerunner-Flood War

During the Forerunner-Flood War, there had most likely been an entire fleet of Keyships. It was used extensively by the Forerunners in their war against the Flood. A number of Keyships were given to the Librarian, and combined with her ability to build Portals, the Librarian was able to transport herself back to the Ark with her Keyships if the situation required. The Librarian, however, bravely destroyed her Keyships to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Flood, who with them, would be able to instantaneously travel to the Ark, rendering the Halo Array useless. Near the end of the war, the Keyships were part of an unknown strategy to hold off the Flood for nearly 79 years[9], although this advantage would be foiled by the massive computing power of the Flood. At the Battle of the Maginot Sphere, Didact was in command of multiple Keyships, although near the end, when the Forerunners began generating Slipspace ruptures to destabilize the battlefield and destroy Flood craft, Keyships were recklessly piloted near the rifts, destroying them. However, several Keyships automatically were sent out into the galaxy in the aftermath of Halos' activation, containing numerous specimens of various alien races, to ensure that life would go on.


Main article: San 'Shyuum Civil War

Early in the history of the San 'Shyuum, they found and worshiped a Forerunner Dreadnought that they uncovered. These early worshipers were split, over the usage of the ship, as the Stoics refused to enter the vessel, while the radical Reformists wished to explore it. The Reformists then barricaded themselves within the Keyship, and left the San 'Shyuum home world, taking a gigantic piece of the planet with them. [3] This piece was later refitted into the rocky dome of High Charity along with the Dreadnought atop it.

Sangheili-San 'Shyuum War

After leaving their home world the San 'Shyuum encountered the Sangheili, who also had familiarity with Forerunner technology. The San 'Shyuum believed that incorporating Forerunner technology was allowed by their religion. To the Sangheili, such a thing would have been unthinkable.

During the combat, the Sangheili had an early advantage, with each warrior comparable in skill to ten San 'Shyuum in battle. However, the San 'Shyuum's technological superiority, and possession of the Forerunner Dreadnought, meant that they had the advantage in space, using the Keyship to great effect in devastating hit-and-run strikes against the Sangheilian Fleets. Eventually, the Sangheili were forced to amend their position of the treatment of Forerunner technologies and began incorporating elements into their own designs.

Eventually, in order to ensure the survival of both races, the two races merged to form the early Covenant with the San 'Shyuum as the head religious leaders and the Sangheili as their protectors, and head of the military.

Writ of Union

The two races then penned the Writ of Union, which formally began the Covenant, and decommissioned the Forerunner warship, removing all known weapons, and placing it within the partially completed High Charity.[10] It was then used to power the city, with its engines at partial power.[11][12]

Human-Covenant War

The Keyship gave power to the whole Covenant Holy City. The green cable is a conduit launching individuals into the Keyship.

Before the start of the Human-Covenant War the Forerunner Dreadnought, the founding of the Prophet’s religion, would soon become the place where their religion was proven false. During the 23rd Age of Doubt, the Minister of Fortitude, and the Vice Minister of Tranquility went to the Dreadnought for confirmation of two symbols found on the missionary vessel Minor Transgression. These two symbols were “Reclamation” and “Oracle”, which were found on what was known to Humanity as Harvest. After activating the "Oracle" inside of the Keyship, it began a series of cryptic messages, listed below:


During this series of messages, the Oracle began a launch sequence, which would rip the Keyship from High Charity and destroy the Covenant capital with it. The Oracle was disconnected, but this caused a spiritual crisis for Fortitude, Tranquility and the Philologist. Through the Oracle’s messages, the Forerunners (or their descendants), were still alive, which would shake the foundations of the Covenant itself to the core. In an attempt to keep the religion itself intact, they covered up the encounter, and would try to eradicate these Reclaimers.[13][14]

For most of the Human-Covenant War, the Dreadnought remained a purely religious artifact, not a weapon, until the Battle of High Charity.

The Battle of High Charity

When the Flood attacked High Charity, the Master Chief was on his way to stop the Prophet of Truth, from escaping and at the end of the Battle of Installation 05. He was able to board the ship as Truth uncoupled it from the city's power grid by narrowly making it through a conduit and into the opening it connected to. The Forerunner Dreadnought lifted off, and jumped into Slipspace in the midst of a large battle between Covenant Loyalists, Covenant Separatists and the Flood.

Battle of Earth

The Dreadnought on its way to Earth.

Five days after leaving High Charity (infected by the Flood), the Dreadnought arrived in Sol System.[15] While the Dreadnought was passing Jupiter, John-117, onboard the ship, was contacted by a station on Io, but after going into radio silence, he killed four Grunts, a pair of Jackals and then another group of four Grunts. It is unknown what happened immediately afterward, but soon, the Spartan was found unconscious by a group of Brutes. The Brutes interrogated him, asking him where the Key of Osanalan was, but the Spartan managed to escape by sticking his captor with a plasma grenade.

After making his way to the Prophet of Truth’s position, he reported to the UNSC that one Prophet Hierarch was on board and that he would transmit more information later. Then, Spartan-117 took aim at Truth with a Carbine and fired. Just before the Master Chief could get a good shot at Truth, a Jackal with a Carbine shot and hit the Chief. When arriving in range of Earth's Orbital Defense Platforms, Admiral Hood was about to give the order to destroy the ship. He only stopped because he found out that the Master Chief was aboard. The Keyship, leading the Covenant Loyalist Fleet, eventually broke through Earth's already-weakened defenses, and headed for Earth.

The Dreadnought and John-117 entering Earth's atmosphere.

Nine days after the ship's arrival in the system,[15] the Dreadnought entered Earth's atmosphere. John-117 jumped from the ship as it continued descending, using a hatch as a heat shield, and falling two kilometers into the African jungle. The Dreadnought continued its descent and landed on the Portal to the Ark, which the Covenant fleet was excavating.

The remaining UNSC forces on Africa, planned to launch a surprise strike on the Keyship to eliminate Truth and stop him from activating the structure they thought to be the Ark. The Master Chief led a Marine assault on a Covenant Loyalist anti-air battery sector in the town of Voi and successfully disabled the battery, giving the UNSC a clear shot at the Keyship. Lord Hood then attacked the ship with a squadron of Longsword fighters and three UNSC Frigates. The Dreadnought's advanced Forerunner armor allowed it to survive three MAC rounds and several missiles completely unharmed, and the UNSC attack was halted when the Portal was activated by the Keyship.

After activating the portal, the Dreadnought entered it and landed on The Ark. It did not take part in the battle. The ship was possibly damaged beyond use from the combined effect of Slipspace transition and the attack, and was most likely destroyed when the Halo destroyed itself and the Ark; however, the fate of the Keyship is not known for sure.

Halo Wars

Main article: Unnamed Forerunner Starship
A fleet of Forerunner ships as seen in Halo Wars.

A different type of Forerunner dreadnoughts also make their appearance in Halo Wars, in which a huge fleet of warships are stored in The Apex installation of the Flood-controlled Shield World, waiting for a Reclaimer to activate them via a control panel located on the Apex main platform. It is unlikely that these ships could be used as a Keyship, like the former class of Dreadnoughts.

In 2531, Prophet of Regret, with the help of Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee intended to use the ships to crush humanity faster and without prolonging the war. Before they had the chance to use them, the crew of UNSC Spirit of Fire decided to destroy the ships and the Shield World by making the artificial sun in the center of the megastructure to go supernova. As a result, all the ships inside the planet were destroyed by the massive explosion.


  • The Threshold Gas Mine hangar bay looks similar to the Dreadnought's hangar and has a Seraph as depicted in Halo 2.
  • According to the account by Forerunner AI, Offensive Bias, in the sixth Terminal, he controlled Dreadnoughts exactly 37,654 tons (75,308,000 pounds) each, in his battle with the Mendicant Bias. This may be the same class of ship although it is likely it was a special class of Dreadnought designated the Keyships.
  • Gemini is the only multiplayer level that one can see the Forerunner Keyship in.
  • The Forerunner Dreadnought is said to be even faster than all Covenant cruisers, all of which can outrun all Human vessels making them the fastest known ships ever created.
  • Originally, a level referred to as 'Forerunner Ship' was supposed to take place on the vessel right after defeating Tartarus in Halo 2, as said in Halo 3 Essentials.
  • The Covenant were only able to use 10% of the Dreadnought's generator to power High Charity.[16]
  • Though it is never explicitly stated, the Forerunner Ship is a Keyship, which would activate the Ark portal. This is evidenced by its apparent activation of the Ark portal on Earth while it was landing in the middle and Truth stating that the Ark portal on Earth is in its "true resting place" during gameplay.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Halo 3, Terminal Six
  2. Halo 3, The Storm(One frigate fired twice and the others fired once)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Halo: Contact Harvest, page 262
  4. Halo 3 level The Storm, Terminals
  5. Halo 2
  6. Halo 3
  7. Halo 3, Terminal Four
  8. Halo 3, Terminal Five
  9. Halo: Contact Harvest, page 145-148
  10. High Charity (Level)
  11. Halo: Contact Harvest, page 148
  12. Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 274–276
  13. Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 379–384
  14. 15.0 15.1
  15. Halo: Contact Harvest

This article uses material from the "Forerunner Dreadnought" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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