Big shell1

The Big Shell

The Big Shell was a large marine decontamination facility established approximately 30 kilometers offshore from Manhattan, New York. The facility was comprised of two hexagonal structures, Shell 1 and Shell 2, connected end-on-end, north to south. Each structure consisted of a central "core" surrounded by six struts.


According to the United States Government, the sinking of the USS DiscoveryScript error in New York Harbor in 2007 caused a large quantity of crude oil to be discharged into the sea. The government immediately responded with the construction of an oil fence. Using chlorine derivatives, they sterilized the entire zone of polluted sea and constructed a huge marine decontamination facility. Biological reactors managed in "nodes" were installed inside the Big Shell, and it became a symbol of environmental protection. Also, the Big Shell utilized a genetically altered form of sea lice that had its DNA altered with that of the bacterium Pseudomonas to give it the ability to decompose crude oil through an enzyme in its body. They were used to a great extent in order to reduce costs and the number of spill maintenance workers. The sea lice were benign and harmless, but they had ravenous appetites, making them a pest as well.[1] Several of the employees, specifically at Strut E, were also avid gamers, and often arranged to have game software delivered to the Big Shell for their own personal usage.[2]

In reality, the Big Shell's construction had merely been a cover story, to disguise the development of Arsenal Gear. The oil had intentionally been spilt after the Discovery's sinking, by a duplicate tanker sent by the Patriots, which had then been sank in the same area. The original tanker had contained no crude oil at all, having instead been used to transport Metal Gear RAY, prior to its theft.


In 2009, a terrorist group calling themselves the "Sons of Liberty" led by Solidus Snake, a.k.a. former President George Sears, attacked the Big Shell while a government sponsored tour was being held. President James Johnson and the rest of the party were captured and taken hostage. They demanded a ransom of $30 billion. They also stated that if the government was unable to meet their demands, they would blow the Big Shell out of the water, which would result in the ignition of the remaining crude oil in Manhattan Harbor, creating an inferno. The chlorides used to decontaminate the harbor would be ignited as well, releasing clouds of toxins containing catastrophic levels of dioxins, totally destroying the Hudson Bay ecosystem, with naught but a toxic soup remaining for centuries to come.

Solid Snake and Hal Emmerich of Philanthropy later discovered that the Big Shell had not actually been cleaning the environment at all.[3] Although it had several facilities that were utilized to clean up the oil spill, they had not been running at full capacity, as Snake learned during his infiltration of the facility. Otacon also speculated that more crude oil may have been spilt into the harbor to replace any oil that was cleaned out of the bay, and deduced that the "toxic gas" theory sounded too suspicious to even be considered remotely true.

The decontamination effort that followed was staged in order to complete tests on Arsenal Gear and the AI, GW, as part of the S3 Plan. It was because of this that the Big Shell was chosen for the location of Raiden's engineered mission.

During the Big Shell Incident, the facility was damaged in several places by various attacks, battles and bomb explosions; Shell 2 in particular suffered heavy damage to its Core section and the connecting bridge between the two shells was also destroyed. Finally, the entire Big Shell was completely destroyed altogether when Arsenal Gear went active, as the chains holding the structures in place were severed, causing the struts to break apart and collapse in on each other before sinking into the sea.

Layout and functionsEdit

The Big Shell was composed of two "shells," each containing six struts around the core of the shell. Oil fences were also erected in order to contain the crude oil. The facility was also almost completely automated, which meant that there were few human personnel required at the Big Shell. The steeple-like structures dotting the facility were piles installed to draw up the polluted seawater, which is then stored in a sediment pool (see Strut D), and then travels to Shell 2 for the oil to be removed from the sea water and eventually traveled to Strut L for it to be completely sterilized before flushed out. Each of the strut pillars, from the waterline up to the actual strut platforms, also had a height of approximately 40 meters, or 130 feet.[4]

The two shells were connected by a bridge. The Big Shell balanced itself by attaching shell struts to the shell core. If both shell cores were to be destroyed at the same time, the entire facility would collapse. Most of the functions and layout were given out in a brochure.[5]

Each shell's main struts are hexagonal in shape, while the shell core is square-shaped.

Shell 1Edit

The Shell 1 Core was one of the more important facilities, and it was the center of the Big Shell: Its first basement floor contained a meeting hall that was used for the receptions for the President as well as the environmental protection inspection team. Because of it being used by high-ranking officials, it also contains biometrics scanning equipment at the door to the meeting hall. A break-room is also situated nearby. The second floor basement contained a computer room that was used to monitor the flow of polluted water and the status of filtration, as well as where all tasks of the Big Shell are carried out. Presumably, the computer room also was the location where GW was being programmed, which made security in this area very tight. The second floor basement also contained a large door that led straight into Arsenal Gear.

Strut A contained a pump facility to supply energy for the circulation of polluted sea water into the sections of the Big Shell, although the pump facility itself was actually congregated in the southern section of Strut A. The controls for the pump facility were located in the northern section of Strut A. Strut A also contained a dock that was used for deep sea submarines to investigate for damages around the Big Shell underwater.

Strut B acted as the electric generator of the entire facility, with its power substation being located on the first floor. As such, its transformer room also required electric appliances such as PSF-Z1s[6]

Strut C was the residential area of the facility, which contained a kitchen, a pantry, restrooms, and a mess hall to support the few workers it has.

Strut D contained sediment pool no. 1, which was a facility where polluted water was stored without disruption so that its large pollutants could settle and then be extracted from the water.

Strut E contained a heliport, which was used as an aerial transport hub to deliver supplies to the facility due to the oil fences surrounding the Big Shell cutting off its sea entrances from seafaring transport vessels.

Strut E also contained a conveyor system that transports supplies throughout the different areas of the facility, to which it sorts the supplies to where it needs to go via the markings of its containers.

Strut F acted as a warehouse for several of their equipment that they didn't have any immediate use for. At least one set of equipment included toys such as action figures.[7]

Shell 2Edit

The Shell 2 Core was where the actual filtration system resided. It purified the waters via benign bacteria in the area that broke down the oil in the water via microbes decomposing microcarbons. The area below the first floor contained a vat for this purpose. As a side effect of the microbes decomposing the oil by absorbing large amounts of oxygen in the purification chamber, the water within the chamber also had its buoyancy virtually eliminated, which meant there was virtually no chance of getting back to the surface once one falls into the vat. The first floor also contained an air purification facility that eliminated the stench from the seawater that resulted from the oil spill. However, the vat broke at some point, causing the shell to flood in areas below the first floor.

Strut G contained the oil processing facility.

Strut H contained a warehouse.[8]

Strut I contained an assembly facility.

Strut J contained a power plant.

Strut K contained a biochem lab.

Strut L contained the effluent processing facility, which treated sea water that was expunged of oil was treated with chlorine and other chemicals to sterilize and disinfect the sea water so it could be made suitable for flushing back into the ocean again. The strut also contained an emergency ladder of a height of at least 40 meters/130 feet.[4]


  • Deep sea submarine

The Big Shell lacked life boats, and this along with its long distance from Manhattan's shore was the reason why Snake, Raiden, and Otacon had to use the stolen Kasatka transport chopper to evacuate the hostages on Big Shell.[10]


Security systemsEdit


Wharf roach:[13] A crustacean of order Isopoda under the family Ligidaie that lives primarily near reefs and seashores. They have antennae and seven pairs of legs. Although their normal diet usually composes of algae and dead organisms, the variety on the Big Shells were created in a lab and genetically engineered to break down the spilled oil by splicing their genes with that of the bacterium Pseudomonas so they could absorb and eat oil. This ability was the reason why the Big Shell itself was oil-free, although they also seemed to enjoy rations. In addition, they had an aversion to cold vapor, meaning that a coolant spray would drive them away.

Sea gull: These birds were abundant throughout the facility.

Behind the scenesEdit

The Big Shell is a major location in the 2001 game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Hideo Kojima had come up with the idea for the Big Shell being an oil platform in order to fulfill one of two scenarios he had in mind for the second game: specifically, infiltrating an immobile area, as he had already utilized Alaska for the previous game.[14]

In Hideo Kojima's "Grand Game Plan" for Metal Gear Solid 2, the Big Shell was originally to have been called the Big Blue Apple (a combination of "Big Blue Sea" and the "Big Apple," nicknames for the ocean and New York City, respectively). There was also to have been an aquarium for all of the aquatic wildlife in the Hudson Bay, which could be used to monitor and identify wildlife via a miniature submarine device, as well as have Doc give more details on the marine environment and fauna when contacted. It is also implied that it "drew out" gold and silver minerals from the sewers. These features ultimately never made the cut. Additionally, although the Big Shell's involvement in Arsenal Gear's construction was the same, it was originally to have been constructed to raise up the USS Discovery (nicknamed the Arsenal Ship) and recover valuable data on Arsenal Gear in order to resume its development.

The Big Shell bears a striking resemblance to a series of British World War II anti-aircraft facilities , all of which featured a central core surrounded by octagonal struts. 

Mother Base, the offshore base of operations for the Militaires Sans Frontières in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, as well as the offshore base of operations of the same name used by Diamond Dogs in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, both have a similar hexagonal design to the Big Shell. In the IGN live demo for The Phantom Pain at Gamescom 2015, they even directly compared Mother Base, or rather, one of the Forward Operating Bases, to Big Shell.

A rubber ducky and a Vulcan Raven action figure can be found in the flooded chambers of Shell 2's core.

Big Shell acted as the password for an "encrypted file" on the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance website. The file in question was a corrupted blueprint of a cross-section of RAY.

The Big Shell also appears in the Versus Battle for the series official site.

"STRENGTHS: Hidden Home of GW & Arsenal Gear
WEAKNESSES: Hungry Genetically Modified Sea Lice
FEATURED FACT: Disguised as an oil spill decontamination facility, Big Shell houses the huge Arsenal Gear and the World War III-capable George Washington AI
-Big Shell on Versus Battle.


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    The Colonel describes the sea lice in an optional Codec conversation.
  2. This is implied with the Cardboard Box 5 item, which both had a design based on that of Zones of the Enders, and a general description stating that the box was meant to transport game software. A similar box was found in one area of the conveyor area of Strut E, as well.
  3. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Solid Snake: The good news is that it really hasn't done much in terms of cleaning up the environment, so we don't have to worry about any toxic gas being released if we have to blow the house down.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (script), Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001)
    Raiden: I have a question for you. // Emma Emmerich: What is it? // Raiden: How do you feel about heights? // Emma: I can’t say I like heights... though water’s higher on my phobia list. Why? // Raiden: We have to go down a ladder -- // Emma: How far down? // Raiden: Just a little bit... (Emphasis on ‘little’) // Emma: (Reproachfully) Why do I feel like we’ve had this conversation before? How little is little? (Emphasis on ‘little’) // Raiden: ...About 130 feet? // (For the European version: Raiden: ...About 40 meters? ) // Emma: ...
  5. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Rosemary explains to Raiden that she learned the details about the functions and layout of the Big Shell, as well as the nature of each of the struts, from a brochure.
  6. This is implied with both the design of Cardboard Box 2 (which has PSF-Z1 written on it) and the item description of the same item.
  7. This is implied with the Cardboard Box #4 item, which had the logo for McFarlane Toys, being the box sent to Strut F.
  8. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Although Pliskin says that he found C4 at the heliport on Strut H, during a Codec conversation, the final polygon model in the game has it on Strut I.
  9. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    In an optional codec call to the Colonel, Raiden will point out that the JIM suit doesn't look like it has been used.
  10. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Pliskin: It’s too far from Manhattan for a swim. // Raiden: What about lifeboats? // Pliskin: There doesn’t seem to be any. Doesn’t make sense. // Raiden: So a chopper is our only extraction?
  11. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    In an optional Codec call to the Colonel before getting the SOCOM pistol from Snake, Raiden will notice some inconsistencies with the non-ID weapons around Big Shell, as some of them seemed to have been around before the terrorist takeover.
  12. The presence of a SOCOM suppresor implies that the weapon itself may have been present on the Big Shell, and that this was the pistol initially procured by Solid Snake.
  13. Wharf Roach is the species name given in the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database.
  14. The Making of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty DVD
70px-Wiki.png This article uses content from the Metal Gear wiki.
The original article can be found [[w:c:metalgear:{{{1}}}|here]] and the original contributors here.
The content is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.