The Mystery of the ‘Rogue One’ Hammerhead Crew. Did they Survive?

Photo courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm


Want to know what happened to the unsung heroes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? EW chats with ILM’s John Knoll and his VFX team to find out the answer! Read on for more details…


The latest installment of the Star Wars sci-fi film franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has not disappointed either critics (an excellent 8.1 out of 10 on imdb) nor Disney, who must be very happy with its near 1 billion dollar take at the box-office.


The unique film further pays homage to the existing episodes with several references to the Star Wars canon. There’s a little bit of fan-service here, but most diehard fans seem to appreciate it because it doesn’t feel all that forced.


Fans of the animated series Star Wars: Rebels were very excited to see the starship “Ghost” and a few “Hammerhead Corvettes” in ‘Rogue One’. In fact, one of the Hammerheads plays a pivotal role in the film’s final moments crashing its vessel in order to cripple a massive Star Destroyer. So the question remains, what happened to the Hammerhead and its crew? Was it a suicide mission, or did the crew make a last second escape?


In a new interview with EW’s Anthony Breznican, Rogue One executive producer and Industrial Light and Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll graciously attempts to shed some light on those very questions.

“There was some talk about, ‘Hey, is this a suicide mission? Are all these guys going down with the Star Destroyers?’ I started pushing for this idea that maybe in one of the shots we could have all these lifeboats, the escape pods, shoot out of it.”

Picture this: As the mid-sized Rebel starship smashes the two Imperial goliaths together, driving them toward the planet below, a plume of small objects erupt from its undercarriage.

“We did an animation of that, but Gareth [Edwards, the director] thought it was a little distracting, so we turned that off,” Knoll says.


Photo courtesy of Disney and EW


It appears that the ILM crew came up with a way for the  unnamed “Hammerhead” crew to make an escape,  thanks to a brilliant cutaway that justifies it.

“The last shot you see of the Star Destroyers crashing down through the gate — it’s a very subtle thing, and it would probably be hard to tell this – but the lifeboats are all gone on the Hammerhead,” Knoll tells EW. “It’s my story that the Hammerhead crew got into the life boats and made it out.”



Anthony Breznican talks with John Knoll and the rest of the VFX crew about the battle of Scarif on EW’s “Behind the Scenes”. You can listen to the entire  show below.





Don’t forget to head on of the EW for complete article.



May the for be with us!



+ posts

31 thoughts on “The Mystery of the ‘Rogue One’ Hammerhead Crew. Did they Survive?

  • January 13, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Hammerhead jumped to hyperspace before Vader’s Star Destroyer showed up

    • January 13, 2017 at 1:53 am

      When I heard Admiral Raddus command them to ram the SD, I thought he was commanding them to commit suicide. Ups the stakes quite a bit.

      • January 13, 2017 at 2:16 am

        Agree, that entire battle, alongside the journey of the main protagonists of Rogue One, really does a great job of driving home the immeasurable sacrifice of so many which led to the 1st major blow to the Empire (/destruction of Deathstar).

      • January 13, 2017 at 6:50 pm

        I like that, in a disparate, disjointed collection of rebellion cells, it’s NOT a Mon Cal ship he orders to commit suicide. Raddus is a speciesist jerk 🙂

        • January 14, 2017 at 4:37 am

          yeah, and when the humans want a suicide mission done they call on Bothans.

      • January 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

        I chuckled in the cinema when I heard him say to the fleet ‘this is Admiral Raddus’ because I misheard it. Even after 3 views it still sounds like he says Admiral Radish.

  • January 13, 2017 at 1:43 am

    In the novel it was a badly damaged ship and was a suicide mission.

    • January 13, 2017 at 4:37 am

      I like this idea (just about to read novelization after finish Catalyst).

      Adds even more weight to the sacrifices made by so many to steal & deliver the Death Star plans.

  • January 13, 2017 at 2:34 am

    Re: escape pods/lifeboats fate

    With all of the deaths in that final battle of Rogue One, and the sacrificing shown, I found it fitting to imagine the crew of that Hammerhead sort’a acting as Kamikaze attack.

    The problem with the escape pods/lifeboats ideas –

    The fate could almost be worse than death:
    1) Less likely …but crash landing on Scrarif moments after the DS blasted it wouldn’t be pleasant. And that just before….
    2) Getting captured. Then tortured. Then **Imprisoned.

    **Can just imagine the poor surviving captain was put in prison cell 2186 aboard the Death Star. 😉

    • January 13, 2017 at 4:26 am

      Click the link and read the article. They address this.

      • January 13, 2017 at 4:35 am

        I did.
        My comment was based upon the perspective of a *viewer* – what I, maybe others, thought when/after viewing the movie & imagining what happened to the crew, from the situation posed on-screen.

        From what we’re presented with on-screen, it’s most likely not a good outcome for the crew whether they survived in lifeboats or not.

        I do wonder how this squares with what’s considered *canon*. If the novelization says it was a “suicide mission” (of sorts, see comment below)… then I’m assuming that the novel is the canon story of what happened.

        • January 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm

          When in doubt, go with the movie over the novel, but the end result is the same: they dead. So it doesn’t matter.

  • January 13, 2017 at 5:21 am

    I actually did wonder what happened to the crew, the second viewing I noted that the Hammerhead looked lost with the other two Star Destroyers.

  • January 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    The book says they died. There was a very small skeleton crew manning it.

  • January 13, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    I believe that in the novelization it mentions that the hammerhead’s commander ordered all hands except a small navigation crew to abandon ship before they made their run at the star destroyer. That would have been a nice little pick-up shot for Gareth to have gotten during reshoots, as it would have then allowed space for Knoll and company to show the pods jettisoning earlier in the sequence.

    I agree, showing a mass of pods ejecting while the ship was crashing into the star destroyer would have been a bit visually distracting. But had they ejected prior to the ship accelerating toward the destroyer… that would have worked nicely.

    That said, I still love that scene as-is.

    • January 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      I can’t see it as coming off as anything other than very “G.I. Joe” – DON’T WORRY, KIDS! EVERYBODY PARACHUTED OUT BEFORE IT EXPLODED!!!!!

      • January 13, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        At the same time, auto-pilot and escape pods exist for a reason.

        • January 15, 2017 at 6:11 am

          Yes, but I’m talking about the staging of the sequence, not a notion of realism. I’m perfectly happy thinking that this was part of the high price that was paid for this first victory, and speaks to the passionate belief in the need to overthrow the Empire that the Rebels held.

      • January 13, 2017 at 9:49 pm

        I can’t help but seeing it as realistic that people would want to live if they could help it.

        • January 14, 2017 at 5:50 am

          Nonsense, Disney reshot the movie to make it more kid friendly. S T A R W A R S I S R U I N E D

  • January 13, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Who cares they are all gonna die anyways

  • January 13, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    At least SOMEONE in this movie got to live, lol.

  • January 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    It bumped into a defenseless Star Destroyer at a reduced speed. Why would anyone need to escape? Or, let me phrase, why would anyone need to question this?

  • January 16, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Better question… what happened to raddus and his ship/crew?

    • January 20, 2017 at 5:37 am

      He’s Calamari, according to Pablo Hidalgo.

      – Pomojema

      • January 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm

        That’s obvious. I asking what happened to him at the end when Vader boarded the ship and Leia escapes?

        • January 27, 2017 at 2:51 am

          He’s dead is what I was saying. That’s the joke.

          – Pomojema

          • January 27, 2017 at 9:44 pm

            But it’s not funny. I seriously want to know what happened to him. If you are actually being serious, what is your source for him being dead? Other than it makes the most sense, but maybe they captured him. I would think they would take prisoners to find out where the Rebel’s hidden base is. Seems like a potential story in there…

          • January 27, 2017 at 11:23 pm

            There might be one, but the short answer is that he’s not gonna show up that much further on in the timeline.

            – Pomojema

  • January 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    …And either the Empire catches them or they plunge into demise during the conflict. No escape really.

Comments are closed.