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UNSC Pillar of Autumn: Misc



Up to date as of February 08, 2010

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Pillar of Autumn links here. For the Halo: Combat Evolved level, see The Pillar of Autumn (Level).
UNSC Pillar of Autumn
Production information

Halcyon-class Cruiser


Reyes-McLees Shipyards

Modified by

Dr. Halsey, ONI

Technical specifications

1.17 kilometres (3,800 ft)


352 metres (1,150 ft)


414 metres (1,360 ft)

Engine unit(s)

Fusion drive

Slipspace Drive

Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine

Slipspace velocity


Power plant
  • One primary fusion reactor
  • Two secondary fusion reactors



2 meter thick plating

Sensor systems
  • Radar
  • Spectroscopes
Targeting systems

Shipboard AI

Navigation system



Emergency thrusters (port/starboard)

Other systems

Two warship AI


Warship, Special operations, Makeshift thermonuclear bomb

Earliest sighting

Battle of Arcadia (2531)


Battle of Installation 04 (2552)

Latest sighting

September 22, 2552

Present for battles/events

Battle of Arcadia
Battle of Reach
Battle of Installation 04


United Nations Space Command

Known owner(s)


Known crewmembers

see below

Known commander(s)

Captain Jacob Keyes, Cortana

"There was only one ship."
Thel 'Vadamee
"One? Are you sure?"
Prophet of Regret
"Yes. They called it the Pillar of Autumn."
Thel 'Vadamee

The UNSC Pillar of Autumn (UNSC Cruiser C709)[2] was a Halcyon-class Cruiser serving in the UNSC Navy. Informally, she was simply referred to as the Autumn or abbreviated as the "PoA". The Autumn was retrofitted with advanced weaponry and technology in preparation for a special operation to seize a Covenant warship and subsequently capture the Covenant leadership. Prior to the launch of this mission, the Covenant fleet attacked Reach, during which battle the Autumn was a major participant.

Following the battle of Reach, the Pillar of Autumn jumped to the Threshold system, where she encountered a pursuing Covenant fleet and Installation 04. Her captain, Jacob Keyes, landed the ship on the Halo installation, where her surviving complement mounted a resistance against the Covenant and later the Flood. Following the release of the Flood, the Master Chief detonated the Autumn's fusion reactors in order to destroy Installation 04.



The ship was constructed over Mars in 2509.[3] Early on in the Human-Covenant War, the Pillar of Autumn participated in the First Battle of Arcadia in February 2531 [4]. She along with three other ships managed to fire on a Covenant ship that was still recharging its shields. Though she was heavily damaged, the Autumn delivered experimental Rhino units to Arcadia to penetrate Covenant shield defenses on the colony world's surface.

Mothballed and due to be scrapped like the remainder of the Halcyon-class cruisers, the Autumn was again brought in to active duty. She had undergone a refit in 2550 to serve in the Zeta Doradus System. She was then relocated to the UNSC stronghold Reach in preparation for her role as a launch pad for a covert operation under the command of Captain Jacob Keyes. The initial plan of the mission was to have the Autumn, retrofitted with state-of-the-art technology, disable a Covenant warship intact. SPARTAN-IIs assigned to the Autumn would then board the ship, locate the Covenant homeworld, and capture the Covenant leadership to force a truce. Dr. Halsey asked which ship Cortana chose for the original mission. Cortana chose the Pillar of Autumn for the skeletal structure, designed by Dr. Robert McLees. "...At the time, deemed unnecessarily over massed and costly due to series of cross-bracing and interstitial honeycombs... Halcyon-class ships, however, have a reputation for being virtually indestructible. Reports indicate these ships being operational even after sustaining breaches to all compartments and losing ninety percent of their armor." This, obviously, implies that the Pillar of Autumn can take an immense beating, therefore being a good choice on Cortana's part.

The Pillar of Autumn pushes through the Covenant blockade and escapes Reach.

Before the Pillar of Autumn could embark on this operation, a Covenant armada attacked and subsequently destroyed Reach. The SPARTANs aboard the Autumn were either sent to Reach's surface or went with John-117 to destroy a ship that didn't do the Cole Protocol and presumed KIA when the Covenant glassed the planet. Meanwhile, the Autumn claims several enemy kills over Reach before enacting the Cole Protocol, leading the Covenant fleet away from Earth. Instead of using a random vector, the AI Cortana guided the ship to the Threshold system based on coordinates obtained from a Forerunner artifact on Sigma Octanus IV.[5] The result was the human discovery of a Halo ringworld, Installation 04.

Upon arrival in-system, the Autumn encountered a large battle group of Covenant CCS-class Battlecruisers that had followed her vector from Reach. The Covenant High Command, reluctant to use plasma torpedoes near Halo, instead send boarding parties to disable the warship. The Autumn destroyed four enemy vessels over Installation 04 before Covenant soldiers disarmed her MAC, rendering the ship defenseless. Keyes then gave the order to abandon ship, sending John-117, the only active SPARTAN left aboard, on a lifeboat to Halo's surface with Cortana to prevent her capture. The Autumn then jettisoned its cryo pods before Keyes crash-landed the ship on the ringworld's surface.

The Pillar of Autumn taking plasma impacts at the Battle of Installation 04.

Many of the Autumn's crew had evacuated the ship through life boats, Pelican drop ships, or ODST drop pods. One group of survivors established Alpha Base on Installation 04, using Pelicans to transport materiel from the relatively intact warship to sustain the humans' guerrilla war against the Covenant.

After the release of the Flood and the Monitor 343 Guilty Spark's subsequent attempt to activate Halo, Cortana reasoned that she and SPARTAN-117 needed to destroy the installation, determining that detonating the Autumn's fusion reactors would be the best way to do so. Cortana's attempt to set off the reactor core from the bridge failed when 343 Guilty Spark stopped the self-destruct sequence from the Engineering section. The Master Chief used explosives to destroy the engine shields and force a chain reaction. After Echo 419 was downed after an aborted extraction of SPARTAN-117 from the Autumn, Cortana and the Master Chief made their way to a docked Longsword fighter and used it to escape Halo's destruction.


The Pillar of Autumn was roughly 43 years old at the time of her escape from Reach and later destruction on Installation 04. She was a cruiser of the Halcyon-class, the smallest cruisers in the UNSC Fleet.[6] Like other Halycon ships, the Autumn was equipped with a honeycombed internal bracing structure that allowed it to function even after sustaining critical levels of damage.


Power Plant

The refit Pillar of Autumn.

The Pillar of Autumn was refitted with an improved nuclear fusion engine that featured two smaller reactors around a larger one, which were capable of boosting the overall power output by 300% if needed.

Fusion reactors generate extreme heat which must be removed in order for them to remain active without overheating. The Autumn's overhauled reactors were an especially severe case of this. Usually, the excess heat was conducted to a chemical agent which would then vent into space. However, the Autumn's upgraded specifications also included an upgraded cooling system, which featured a "laser-induced optical slurry of ions chilled to near-absolute zero", which is far more efficient than the typical method and removed the reliance on expendable chemical temperature-control substances. In essence, the amount of excess heat removed by the new system increased as the reactors' output did. This self-regulating and self-cooling power plant was critical in combat since it virtually eliminated a commander's concerns about overheating and slagging a ship's engines.

The Pillar of Autumn's reactor was able to be overloaded by explosives, either grenades or rockets, destroying the vulnerable vent cores. Once these were destroyed, the reactor began to go critical, resulting in temperatures of over 100,000,000 degrees and a thermonuclear explosion that tore apart a Halo Installation.[7]


The upgraded Pillar of Autumn received extensive refits, including several to its weapons systems. Eventually, it was host to a very powerful armament; far in excess of the original Halcyon-class ships.

  • With extra power capacitors and power recycling systems, the Pillar of Autumn could fire three consecutive shots per charge.
  • The MAC gun fired lighter projectiles compared to most ship grade MACs, but these rounds worked much like Shredder Rounds.
  • 300 Archer Missile Pods which were arranged in thirty columns and ten rows. Each pod contained 26 individual devices, equaling 7800 missiles[8].
  • Four Shiva-class Nuclear Missile, one loaded onto a remote-controlled Longsword interceptor, and three ship-launched.[9].
  • Forty 50mm MLA Auto-cannons with overlapping fields of fire for point defense against single ships. These cannons were later scavenged by the surviving humans on Installation 04 for Alpha Base.

Engine Room

The Pillar of Autumn's engine room was a large, three-deck high chamber allowing access to the fusion engine core. Side passages allowed for movement from the bottom deck all the way up to the catwalks on the third. The manifolds into the cores were suspended above the second deck. Controls on the third retracted these manifolds, exposing a vent that led directly into the core. It was using this method to expose the core via the vents that the Master Chief ultimately destroyed the ship and "Halo". This room is the largest room in the Pillar of Autumn with the exception of the hangar bay and the "Leap of Faith" room.


Airlock 31, 32: Lifeboats destroyed by the Covenant to make way for a Boarding Craft.
Airlock 51: Lifeboat was destroyed by unseen Covenant artillery as it departed from the airlock.
Airlock 52, 53, 61, 62, 63: Lifeboats managed to make it out of the vessel.1

1Airlock 61: the Master Chief, Cortana, 9 other Marines on board and the Bumblebee pilot.

Known Crew

Marines and ODSTs



Pillar of Autumn Command Crew

Other Naval Personnel


  • Jonesy (Unknown crew member's cat)
Crew members in the "Autumn".


The Bulletin Board.
  • The Pillar of Autumn is approximately 1.17 km long.[10] This, however, contradicts the final level of Halo: Combat Evolved where the player must drive along a 3 km long service corridor that supposedly runs the length of the ship. This was probably for generating the tension and atmosphere necessary for the level. It is also possible that due to the many twists and turns, the service corridor is stretched along several levels of the ship, making it possible for it to be that long. This is also the Master Chief's serial number. However, the distance given is as the crow flies, not the actual distance of the path.
  • The Marathon logo is prominently displayed on the Pillar of Autumn's starboard and port sides. The ship's official emblem has the Marathon logo as well. The marathon logo was also visible in the window of the ship in the opening cut scene of the level The Maw.
  • The bulletin board just outside the bridge of the ship contains a number of amusing clips, some throwbacks to Marathon. These can be examined on the first level of Halo: Combat Evolved. The board has a flier for a missing cat called Jonesy. This is a reference to the Alien movies, where the cat's name was Jonesy.
  • Prior to being refit for the Spartan mission, the Pillar of Autumn was equipped with Mark II fusion engines (which supplied only 10% the power of modern reactors), had only light armor, and had just one regular MAC gun and six Archer missile pods.[11]
  • The Pillar of Autumn mess-hall offered a choice between turkey, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, meatloaf, and a dish named Chef's Special. Beverages included cola, water, lemon/lime, lemonade, root beer, coffee, orange juice, hot tea, hot chocolate, iced tea, and Chef's Surprise. These are served in what appear to be vending machines, and are visible in the opening level in Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • In cut scenes, the Pillar of Autumn never moves, it is just a piece of BSP geometry. However, the cameras and the background moved in such a way that it gave the illusion of movement.
  • The Pillar of Autumn has a sister ship known as the Dawn Under Heaven.
  • The Pillar of Autumn supplied Rhino artillery to the ground forces on Arcadia in 2531. These were absent by 2552.



  1. Halo: The Flood, page 136
  2. Sybex Halo PC Strategy Guide Page 60
  3. Halo: The Fall of Reach page 238
  4. Halo Wars, level Arcadia City.
  5. Halo: The Fall of Reach, Epilogue
  6. Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 238, paragraph 4: The Pillar of Autumn is forty-three years old," Cortana said. "Halcyon-class ships were the smallest vessel ever to receive the cruiser designation. It is approximately one-third the tonnage of the Marathon-class cruiser currently in service."
  7. Halo: Combat Evolved, The Maw (Level)
  8. Halo: The Fall of Reach, pages 274-275 Captain Keyes mentions performing a fly-by inspection of the starboard shuttle bay and counting Archer Missile Pods thirty across and ten down, making for 300 Archer Missile Pods. The next sentence then reads "Each pod held dozens of missiles." The count of 128 Archer Missile Pods with 30 missiles each must be a severe under-estimation of the ship's missile payload.
  9. Halo: The Fall of Reach, chapter 29: in response to Captain Keyes' question about the small single ships in the launch bay, Lieutenant Hikowa states,"Yes Sir. One of the Longswords is equipped with a Shiva Nuclear Warhead; it can be remote piloted. We also have three HAVOC Warheads on board".
  11. Halo: The Fall of Reach pg. 238

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


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