The Ark is a Vanguard-class Deep Space Interceptor. It has 5 Decks and houses a full crew complement of 300 Transformers (although it can be flown by only a handful if necessary). Its environment is fully automated and self-sufficient. For engines, it features 5 Hyperfuel Intake Accelerators.
It is armed with 16 particle-combustion cannons (port), 16 laser emitters (starboard), a primary starfield missile launcher, and an Overshock sonic battery.
Marvel Generation One comics continuity
Marvel Generation One comics
In the comic, the Ark was referred to as "the last of the Great Arks," suggesting that, as in the cartoon, there had been previous Vanguard-class ships. It is also referred to as the most powerful starship in Cybertron's history, and control of it was considered a huge tactical advantage.
It was launched to clear a path for the wandering planet Cybertron through an asteroid field. When this was done and her reserves depleted, the Decepticons attacked and boarded her. Hoping to end the threat of Megatron forever, Optimus Prime purposely crashed the ship into the passing planet Earth. The Ark crashed into Mount St. Hilary, a volcano located a small distance outside of what would one day become Portland, Oregon.
After the crash, some of the Ark's systems still functioned, and when they detected the Decepticon Shockwave making planetfall, the ship revived five of her Autobot crew and rebuilt them into the Dinobots. Upon the disappearance of these warriors in their attempt to destroy Shockwave, the Ark shut itself down.
Four million years later, Mount St. Hilary erupted, jarring the ship back to life. It revived and, unable to distinguish Autobot from Decepticon or to detect organic life (clearly it had suffered additional malfunctions since creating the Dinobots), it revived both sides to transform into the machines it perceived as the planet's dominant lifeforms.
The Ark became the Autobots' main base of operations on Earth until, during Grimlock's first term as Autobot leader, he had the ship repaired and returned to space. The Ark hung around near Earth for a time, until it was abandoned in orbit when Primus teleported all nearby Transformers back to Cybertron to face Unicron. It was recovered by the Dinobots and flown to Cybertron to engage Unicron. Grimlock, being the master of tactics that he is, physically rammed Unicron with the powerfully armed starship, which was then abandoned and crashed on Cybertron. It was recovered this time by Shockwave and Starscream, who repaired it and took it to Earth to conquer that planet with it. This plan was foiled by Galvatron, Megatron and Ratchet crashing the party. Their battle caused the ship to crash to Earth again, this time into the Canadian wilderness.
- Crew of the Ark
The crew of the Ark consisted of:
- Optimus Prime
- Autobot Cars
- Autobot Mini Vehicles
Marvel Generation 2 comics
The Ark was recovered and repaired by Megatron, who attempted to take it back to Cybertron and conquer that planet with it. This was foiled by Fortress Maximus and Spike Witwicky, who sacrificed their lives to cause an anti-matter explosion that finally destroyed the great ship.
Megatron takes command of the Ark, but apparently keeps it (with Ratchet on ice) as his new headquarters on Earth.
The Transformers cartoon
Other Vanguard-class ships, pretty much identical to the Ark, are seen taking refugees from Cybertron on a history tape. Junkion were among these.It is suspected that the settlers of known Autobot colonies such as
The Ark was launched under the command of Optimus Prime to search for fuel, but ran afoul of two colliding asteroids. Then the Decepticon ship attacked, and the Decepticons under Megatron boarded it. Out of control, the Ark crashed to Earth, smashing into a volcano in what would eventually become a desert. The exact location is unknown, but closely resembled the American Southwest. There it rested until a volcanic eruption four million years later reactivated it and its inhabitants.
The Ark's crew consisted of all the 1984 Autobots. A vehicle resembling Grapple's alt-mode and called Hauler is also seen shortly after the Autobots revived on Earth and may represent another crew member. The 1985 Autobots may also have been crewmembers.
- Crew of the Ark
The original 18-strong crew of the ark consisted of:
- Optimus Prime
- Autobot Cars
- Autobot Mini Vehicles
The stowaways consisted of:
After coming back online, the Decepticons immediately departed. However, the Autobots remained in their crashed ship, which served as their base of operations: Autobot Headquarters.
The ship was severely damaged by the crash and its subsequent entombment; massive rocks were visible inside the ship (whether they penetrated the hull on impact or were formed there later is unclear), and broken and damaged consoles are frequently seen in the background. The ship never flew again. The Autobots seemed to be preparing to re-launch it after the crash of the Decepticon space cruiser, but months later, both the Autobots and the ship remained on Earth.
Over time, the Autobots modified and expanded their base. An elevator provided passage to upper levels within the volcano, and a retractable door sealed off the volcano's crater. Early on, a small module serving as Ratchet's medical center sat near the main entrance, but was later removed. Explorations by Sideswipe and Brawn revealed a system of caves beyond the ship's walls. The caves revealed a treasure trove of dinosaur bones, which became the inspiration for the Dinobots. The base's nerve center was the supercomputer Teletraan I.
The base's geographic location proved a liability on at least two occasions, when Decepticon-induced calamities caused the volcano to become active again. During the first of these eruptions, several Autobots were blasted out of the cone and into the troposphere, requiring Skyfire to come to their rescue. Ironhide managed to bring the eruption to a halt by shooting down some rocks. No, really. The system of caves beneath the base also allowed the Constructicons to enter the base from below, in an attempt to destroy Teletraan I. Laserbeak was known to use the volcano's crater as an entry/exit point when on spying missions.
Autobot Headquarters remained in use in 2005, though it appears to have been supplanted by Autobot City as the Autobots' primary operations center. By 2006, the base had been equipped with a large number of retractable cannons built into the mountainside. They were not enough to save it from destruction at the hands of the giant Decepticon Trypticon, however. A squad of Autobots led by Warpath made a stand against the oncoming city-bot, but were brushed aside. Warpath ordered Teletraan I to activate the automated defenses, but the barrage of cannonfire gave Trypticon only momentary pause. He smashed the guns, then blasted the entire mountain to rubble.
Beast Wars continuity
Beast Wars cartoon
According to Blackarachnia, the Ark was launched under the command of Optimus Prime, carrying a group of the Autobots' "finest heroes". One of the two copies of the Covenant of Primus was carried aboard. During the voyage, the Ark came under attack by the Nemesis, the flagship of the Decepticon fleet. Decepticon Leader Megatron led a boarding party which attacked the Ark crew. However, both ships were damaged and fell into the gravity well of the nearby planet Earth. The Ark crashed into a semi-active volcano, and the Transformers aboard were sent into emergency stasis lock.
Though Megatron had ostensibly come to prehistoric Earth to look for a massive cache of energon to fuel his war against the Maximal Imperium, he was in reality following instructions recorded by the original Megatron on the Golden Disk from the Voyager space probe. Once on Earth, he apparently found the crash site of the Ark, but buried the entrance to the interior of the volcano. At that point, he had deemed the plan to destroy the deactivated Autobots aboard her and change the outcome of the Great War as a last-chance gamble should he ever be backed into a corner with little hope of escape. Such a situation came to pass while he was a prisoner aboard Ravage's Transwarp Cruiser, and he convinced the former Decepticon to free him by revealing his plan.
After failing to destroy the Maximal base, he traveled to the crash site, where he forced Blackarachnia to deactivate the security systems of Teletraan I and allow him access to the Ark's bridge. Observing that he was walking in the hallowed halls of the past as somebody who was soon to change the very course of history, he flew to the prone form of Optimus Prime and unleashed a torrent of pent-up rage over what he felt was Maximal injustice toward the conquered Predacons. He then fired at Optimus Prime's head, which created a time storm. Fortunately, the Maximals fixed everything.
Megatron would later reenter the Ark with a new mission: take the spark of Megatron and merge it with his own. However, Tarantulas betrayed him and set the Ark to self-destruct. Fortunately, Blackarachnia was able to deactivate the overload.
After securing the Nemesis, Megatron attempted to destroy the Ark (along with all the Decepticons inside, which might have destroyed him as well). The Maximals tried to bring the Ark online and use it to fight against the Nemesis, but the engines had been idle for too long. However, using a shuttle housed in the Ark, Rhinox was able to damage the Nemesis and capture Megatron. After sufficient modifications, the shuttle was later used to transport the Maximals home, while the Ark and its sleeping passengers remained in the volcano to begin the Great War eventually.
IDW Beast Wars comics
Razorbeast and his small, temporally displaced group traveled to the Maximal encampment in the volcano in order to obtain tools to repair the transwarp signal booster which they hoped to find in the wreckage of Ravage's transwarp cruiser. Not willing to risk taking something that might be noticed missing from the Axalon's shell, they instead took what they need from the Ark.
Dreamwave Generation One comics
There is some question as to the Ark's appearance in the Dreamwave continuity, as it is never shown in totality in an actual comic story. Pictures are seen in the final issue of their More Than Meets The Eye guide, and there it is drawn to look mostly like the cartoon model (though oddly missing the rear "spoiler"). However, the DK Transformers Ultimate Guide, whose main focus was Dreamwave continuity, gives a cutaway diagram of the Ark drawn in the Marvel Comics style instead, only colored yellow-gold as in the cartoon.
IDW Generation One comics
6.2 million meta-cycles ago, the first legendary vessel to be designated as the Ark was launched from Cybertron under the command of Nova Prime. Its stated mission was to plot a safe passage from the Cybertronian Quadrant of the galaxy through the Benzuli Expanse, though its true mission was Expansion. Twenty-thousand astro-cycles out, it disappeared with all hands lost. Over the eras following its loss, rumor, myth and legend sprang up around the ship, obscuring the few existing facts surrounding its fate.
Known passengers on this first Ark include:
On his reappearance, Galvatron reveals that the ship disappeared after he intentionally piloted it directly into the anomaly within the Benzuli Expanse, which turned out to be a gateway to a region known as the Dead Universe.
In the present day, the fate of the first Ark was one of the "big three" mysteries that Nightbeat liked to dig into in his free time. He eventually got a lead on possible remains of the ship, but it turned out to be a trap specifically set to draw him in. On Gorlam Prime he found wreckage of the correct type and age to come from the ship, and far beneath the surface, he discovered a vast inter-dimensional portal. Before he could dig into the mystery even more, he was overtaken by a strange group of Transformers who captured him and messed with his head, eventually erasing his memory of being there at all.
- Autobot Shuttle Ark (3-inch Robot Masters)
- The first ever tangible representation of the Ark was a die-cast Titanium figurine at the 3-inch scale. The very forward section was based on the Ark's appearance in the original cartoon, but attached to it is an approximation of the back 2/3s of another space ship, the "Electronic Star Bird" created and sold by Milton Bradley in 1978.  Odder yet, the technical information on the back refers to the Marvel Comics Ark's destruction at the hands of Fortress Maximus, and that Ark, as seen above, does not resemble either the cartoon Ark or this toy at all.
The very forward portion of the Titanium is removable, allowing for a more accurate toy. (The most iconic portion of the Ark, the rear engines which were often seen protruding from its rocky resting point on Earth, are not present due to placement of the attachment point.)
- An Autobot shuttle featured in Marvel UK's "Space Pirates!" story used the cartoon series' design for the Ark.
- Interestingly, while it is one of the main "set" locations in the The Transformers cartoon, the ship is never actually called the "Ark" until it makes its first appearance in Beast Wars.