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Welcome to Rivet City. Please wait while the bridge extends.Rivet City guard

Rivet City is a city located inside a decaying, beached aircraft carrier in Washington, D.C., in 2277. It is the largest, most developed and scientifically-advanced, native settlement in the Capital Wasteland. Its inhabitants live in individual rooms and enjoy relative safety and security inside the aircraft carrier. A number of guards rotate 24 hours a day to protect the ship from raiders, super mutants, mirelurks and any other threats to the city and its inhabitants. Rivet City includes a shopping area, as well as an American history museum, science lab, church, clinic, bar and even a hotel.


Before the war, the ship that ultimately became Rivet City was a massive aircraft carrier, placed in dry-dock[1] at the Washington Naval Yard. The vessel employed a CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system for launching and recovering naval fighter jets. Starboard aircraft elevators allowed for easy stowage and deployment of these aircraft from the sizable hangar located below the deck. In addition to a sizable fleet of fighters, the carrier was also equipped with a nuclear reactor, desalinization facilities, and on-board hydroponic farms in the aft sections, allowing it to function independently for extended amounts of time. However, the ship was abandoned in the wake of the Great War, most likely after it was beached following a collision with the peninsula south of the naval yard. The impact resulted in the bow section snapping off, allowing the mutated mirelurks to infest the ship's lower sections.[2]

The vessel waited decades for its chance to come again. Around 2237, remnants of the Naval Research Institute under the lead of Horace Pinkerton were looking for new lab space and found the ship, establishing the Rivet Station Science Outpost after clearing out the mirelurks. For years to come they would use the intact science bay as the nucleus of their science efforts.[3] By April 2239, a burgeoning civilian settlement sprung up around the station on the carrier. As a result, on April 25, Rivet City was formally established by Pinkerton, Annette Holmes and Brad Danvers to better protect and organize this growing community.[4] Governance of the City was relegated to a three person Council, staffed by one representative of each "caste" on board the ship: Scientists, civilians, and security personnel.[5]

The settlement prospered and Pinkerton held his seat on the council as science officer until 2258 when Madison Li and her science team arrived at Rivet City after abandoning Project Purity, after the man in charge abandoned the project. Li quickly took over Pinkerton's science teams, with the prospect of reactivating Project Purity as an incentive. Furious, Pinkerton left the city into self-imposed exile in the broken-off bow.[6] What made him particularly angry was the fact that the shift in focus prevented work on more meaningful projects, like defensive systems or even making the carrier seaworthy. Eventually, he abandoned the "treacherous bastards" altogether and went into self-imposed exile in the front bow.[7]


By the time of the Purifier Conflict, Rivet City is the largest settlement in the Capital Wasteland and is the primary supplier of edible, non-irradiated food in the Capital Wasteland, trading it for essential raw materials with other communities.[8] Its scientific prowess is thanks to its aggressive reclamation efforts: anything useful is snatched up and brought to the City.[9] However, it refrains from recruiting scientists from outside settlements, such as the Underworld or Tenpenny Tower, as the vote proposed failed.[5] Anyone trying to pick a fight with Rivet City over this would soon realize his mistake, given that the city has the fourth most powerful military force in the wastelands, right after the Enclave and Lyons' Brotherhood of Steel and Talon Company. Although named as a simple security force, it is trained in combat by veterans (Lana Danvers and Harkness) and equipped with military-grade Army combat armor alongside reliable automatic weapons.[8]

Although it was the most powerful city in the wasteland at this stage, it was not free from problems. The biggest challenges included the fact that it's set up in a derelict aircraft carrier, with ever-present rust causing constant tetanus infections and respiratory ailments among city residents.[10] The city also had to expend resources constantly on maintaining the crumbling structure of the carrier and culling the mirelurk population that lives in the decks below. Even the crown jewel of the city, its science lab, and hydroponic farms caused major problems due to the need for constant oversight and maintenance.[5]

Class divisions were another problem: The society of the City was sharply divided into two classes: the impoverished Hangar Deck denizens and the wealthy Upper Deck citizens, the upper class. The distinction was far from cosmetic: Lower deck residents were especially prone to catching red lung, caused by inhalation of rust particles prevalent in the derelict lower decks, and had to accept poorer accommodations than those in the upper decks. Since they also lived close to mirelurk-infested decks, they were under the constant risk of being killed by rampaging monsters, should the security team lapse in their culling efforts. Still, the lower deck citizens were safer and letter better lives than wastelanders at large, and could always count on the ever-popular Chief Harkness who treated every citizen equally.[11]

Attempts at instituting a bridge tax or exploiting their position by raising prices on exports (eg. fresh produce, by as much as 50%) were repeatedly voted down, keeping the city open to traders and outsiders and fostering a healthy population level.[5] Paladin Danse mentions opening his own junk stand in Rivet City when he was younger. It was at that time he befriended a man named Cutler, and together the two scraped by as traders. They later joined up with the Brotherhood of Steel when they made a recruitment run through Rivet City.[12]

Life alongside the Brotherhood of Steel

Following the conclusion of the Conflict and the activation of Project Purity, Rivet City gained prominence as the Brotherhood of Steel's first trading partner. In return for a share of weapons and other technology salvaged from the Enclave, the Rivet City police force provided protection for water caravans the Brotherhood could not protect themselves.[13] The exchange was mutually beneficial at first, but the increased number of caravans eventually stretched Rivet City's military power to its limits, especially as raider attacks became more organized due to the leadership of Split Jack.[14] The situation got so bad that eventually only one in four caravans made it back intact, draining Rivet city's resources and ranks of veteran security officers at an alarming rate.[15][16] The losses caused by the raider attacks have led to officers in charge questioning Lyons' policy of giving the water out for free, instead of selling it so that caravan drivers can use the markup to pay for protection.[17]


Rivet City lies in the most southeastern part of the map, near Anacostia. It is easiest to reach by following the eastern side of the Potomac River, crossing near the tepid sewers or at the Citadel or by swimming across from Arlington Library. It is also a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial.

On the steel structure across from the aircraft carrier itself (near Carlos the beggar), there is an intercom box that must be used to extend the bridge. After a brief conversation with Harkness, the chief of security, he will grant entry to Rivet City.



Northwest of Rivet City is a super mutant camp. There may be super mutants and sometimes a captive that can be rescued. There is a Lying, Congressional Style skill book by some sleeping mats near several boxes of ammunition.

South of Rivet City, there is a shipwrecked boat surrounded by radioactive waste. The boat contains ammo boxes and a locked first aid box.


To access Rivet City, climb to the top of the tower near the Rivet City map marker (frequently, there will be a trader waiting at the base of the tower). There is an intercom near Carlos. When activated, a bridge will extend from the ship.

Rivet City contains a large and thriving marketplace, as well as other institutions, such as:

The marketplace

Rivet City is thoroughly signposted, unlike the Citadel.

On the upper deck the Lone Wanderer can rent a hotel room for 120 caps from Vera Weatherly or her robot. After purchasing the hotel room, the player character can access it for free thereafter. This room comes with a bed, which grants the Well Rested bonus effect of +10% experience. If the player character didn't rent the room, they can pick the (Very Hard) lock without losing Karma. Even though the bed inside is called "My Bed," the player character can't use it until they've rented the room.

When the player character gets to the upper deck of the carrier, they can get a look at the aircraft that still remain. These are the same fighter jets that are used in the Operation: Anchorage add-on and were apparently the standard jet aircraft for the U.S military in 2077. The exterior doors in the bridge tower lead to catwalks on the outside of the tower, most of which have either an ammo box or a first aid box.

The broken bow of the ship was separated from the main carrier hull and half-flooded. The lower levels are inhabited by mirelurks or mirelurk hunters (depending on player character level), while the upper levels contain Pinkerton's laboratory and home. Pinkerton has set up numerous traps throughout the bow, such as rigged shotguns, frag mines, a gas leak and a rigged terminal placed conveniently near the heavy door to Pinkerton's lab.


Former residents

¹ After successfully opening Vault 101 to the outside world.
² After successful completion of Those! if he was brought to Vera.
³ After successfully completing the unmarked quest Cherry's Freedom.
* 0-1 ordinarily, 3-4 if Modified FEV was used during Take it Back!Broken Steel

Notable loot

Related quests


  • Rivet City has no holding facilities for criminals and zero tolerance for crime.
  • Staying in the marketplace after hours can cause the guards to become hostile.
  • Many citizens and security guards will comment about a citizen dying from drinking river water and then comment that the city's water isn't any better, raising alarm over the quality of the water.
  • One can overhear some non-player characters talking about a child falling off of the bridge.
  • If Raven Rock is destroyed as a part of The American Dream quest, the people in Rivet City will talk about the disappearance of the Enclave Radio station, saying that maybe it was caused by an "Explosion from the horizon."
  • There is a baseball diamond set up on the flight deck that James Hargrave and CJ Young use.
  • If one is caught killing or enslaving anyone from Rivet City, upon re-entering, a number of characters will have a unique dialogue regarding their actions.
  • In dialogue, Horace Pinkerton mentions that, at one point, there were plans to repair the ship and make it seaworthy again. However, he notes this and other plans have fallen by the wayside since Dr. Li took control of the council.
  • It is one of the locations shown in the Bradley-Hercules targeting data, but cannot be fired upon.
  • According to some of its residents, Rivet City is prone to causing red lung. Red lung is a fictional disease that is caused by the inhalation of rust particles, which over time can build up in the lungs and become fatal.
  • If one inserts the modified FEV Virus into Project Purity, Rivet City appears in the ending with what looks like half the ship's population lying dead, but if one goes back to Rivet City later, everyone will still be there.
  • There is almost always a group of Regulators and Talon Company mercs that spawn near Rivet City at the nearby Anacostia Crossing.
  • Pre-War fighter jets have fallen off the bow of the non-city area of the aircraft carrier. Some can still be seen on the flight deck if the player character chooses to visit the front of the ship.
  • If Allistair Tenpenny is killed by a shot in the head during You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head, the residents and guards will converse about how he was shot in the head.


Rivet City appears only in Fallout 3 and is mentioned in Point Lookout.[18] It appears as a marked location on a map of the Capital Wasteland at HELIOS One in Fallout: New Vegas. In Fallout 4, Danse mentions that he grew up in the Capital Wasteland and owned a junk stand in Rivet City. In Fallout Shelter, it is mentioned in the description for military grade duct tape and occasionally a question in the weekly quest Game Show Gauntlet.

Behind the scenes

Rivet City in concept art

  • The Craig Mullins concept art published on May 15, 2007, shows a city with ruined skyscrapers and an aircraft carrier which has run ashore and is connected to one of them by a rudimentary bridge.[19] The aircraft carrier appears to be the USS Oriskany although the image is mirrored, thus placing the island on the wrong side of the ship.[20]
  • During development, there was a quest in which the Enclave would attack Rivet City, and the player character would be tasked with escorting the inhabitants to the Citadel. However, it was vetoed out of the game by Todd Howard, who found it was too big a mission.[21]


  • Icon pc.png Icon ps3.png Icon xbox360.png After reaching the end of the Rivet City bridge, and jumping down to the platform below it, there is a place where you can fall through the boat. When jumping off on the right side (or left, but go to the right side) there will be an open "room" with a first aid box and two ammunition boxes. Should you go to the corner past the leftmost ammunition box, you fall through the boat and land in the water. Fast travel to a different location or reload an older save to fix this problem. [verified]
  • Icon pc.png Icon ps3.png Icon xbox360.png Dogmeat or his puppies will glitch and land on a catwalk that is inaccessible if you tell it to find anything on the outside of the aircraft carrier. [verified]
  • Icon xbox360.png Jumping on the bridge before it stops moving will cause it to clang loudly and move in jumps. [verified]
  • Icon xbox360.png Sometimes the entire boat- including people- will become non-collide-able, making it impossible to enter the city. To fix this simply save, back out to the main menu, and load the save. [verified]
  • Icon xbox360.png Rarely, when you fast-travel to Rivet City, a friendly Enclave soldier will spawn next to you but will automatically disappear when you enter the city. If you try to speak to them, they will either greet you or threaten you verbally. [verified]
  • Icon pc.png Icon ps3.png Icon xbox360.png If Broken Steel is installed, the player may experience crashes near Rivet City after completion of the main quest. [verified]
  • Icon ps3.png After completing the main game, walking or fast traveling to Rivet City or the surrounding area will freeze the game. [verified]
  • Icon pc.png Going to the Rivet City market or other areas may cause instant crashing. It can be due to Gary Staley trying to interact with Angela Staley if she is missing (enslaved, disabled via commands). The solution is to disable Gary Staley through commands or respawn and re-enable Angela Staley if possible. This may occur for other NPCs.



  1. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.408: "9.15: RIVET CITY (LAT 18/LONG -17)
    General Notes
    Rivet City is a massive, dry-docked aircraft carrier, now the largest wastelander residence around and home to a large number of odd, interesting, friendly, and strange characters. Access Rivet City from the rusting platform on the north, using the intercom to request the drawbridge. Inspect the deck for some items and a rather impressive Plasma Rifle that Security Chief Harkness is carrying. You'll need to figure out his secret to retrieve it."
    (Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
  2. The ship's bow is embedded in the peninsula, with fighters scattered around; the only possible scenario is that the ship attempted to exit the port, but ended up driving into the peninsula, the resulting stress causing the bow to break apart. Furthermore, the damage to the built-up peninsula is only possible with plenty of force applied.
  3. The Lone Wanderer: "Setting the record straight is exactly my goal."
    Horace Pinkerton: "For that, you have to go all the way back to when remnants of the Naval Research Institute cleared the Mirelurks off this wreck about 40 years ago. We were looking for new lab-space, and this bucket of bolts just happened to have a well-preserved science bay on it. Everything else just grew up around that lab once we got it up and running. The science team was led by one "H. Pinkerton.""
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  4. Rivet City historical record
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Rivet City terminals; Bannon's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
    Rivet City terminals; Doctor Li's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
  6. The Lone Wanderer: "So, you used to be in charge? How did you end up here?"
    Horace Pinkerton: "That lasted until 'bout 18 years ago, when those ambitious backbiters like Li and her little team showed up. She came in with her big "Purity Project" pipe dream, and my whole staff started working with her, those traitors! She even took my seat on the council. By then, I was glad to leave it behind. But hell if I'm leaving the city I made great!"
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  7. The Lone Wanderer: "What do you know about Project Purity?"
    Horace Pinkerton: "Who cares? It's some hydroponics pipe dream that Li's been working on forever. Waste of time and effort, I say. Apparently, though, my teams cared more about it than they did about little things like defense systems or making this ship float again. Treacherous bastards, all of them."
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rivet City terminals; Bannon's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
    Rivet City terminals; Doctor Li's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
  9. The Lone Wanderer: "You know who might have a Lipoplasticator or Micro Dermal Graftilizer?"
    Doc Church: "Probably down at Rivet City. Anything that has any use out here, they snatch up for themselves. That damn Pinkerton don't share nothin'."
  10. Rivet City terminals; Rivet City Clinic Patient Data System, Regional Health Hazards
  11. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.76: "Harkness
    Rivet City's hard-nosed security chief, 35-year old Harkness is a good guy and a good friend, despite his demeanor. What he doesn't know is that he isn't even human; he's a sentient humanoid robot who escaped from his creators and had his mind wiped. Harkness is extremely fair-minded. He treats Hangar Deck citizens with the same regard as Upper Deck citizens. As a result, he is very well liked by the Hangar Deck residents."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
  12. The Sole Survivor: "You're beating around the bush. Is there something you're trying to tell me?"
    Danse: "Is it that obvious? I've... never been very good at these things. Let me start at the beginning. I grew up alone in the Capital Wasteland. Spent most of my childhood picking through the ruins and selling scrap. When I was a bit older, and had a few caps to my name, I moved into Rivet City and opened a junk stand. While I was there, I met a guy named Cutler. We got along pretty well, watched each other's backs and kept each other out of trouble. When the Brotherhood came through on a recruiting run, we felt like it was the best way out of our nowhere lives, so we joined up."
    (Danse's dialogue)
  13. The Lone Wanderer: "So you guys have something set up on the side?"
    Bigsley: "We do what we can. Take, for example, this ghoul Griffon. He wanted to PURCHASE a bunch of water. What the hell does that droopy irradiated fool need with pure water? Thinks he can sell it in Underworld. Moron. But, he's the only one who's offered to PAY for water, in caps AND technology. And what Lyons doesn't know won't hurt him. There's plenty of water to go around."
  14. The Lone Wanderer: "I thought Rivet City security was a police force, not a military organization."
    Lepelletier: "Heh. Tell me about it. It's enough trouble just keeping the miscreants on that leaky boat under control. But the Brotherhood needs help delivering all that water. But I'm not getting the support I need. There's been an increase in attacks on the caravan. And they don't seem random any more. To make matters worse, I'm running out of resources and I'm down to my greenest men."
  15. The Lone Wanderer: "You're not trying to stiff me, are you?"
    Lepelletier: "Nothing of the sort! How dare you even suggest such a thing. Look around for Godsake. Do you see a mountain of bottle caps? A stash of weapons? Only a quarter of the escorts have returned! Those poor boys are likely dead, and sadly for you, they took the last of our resources with them. No. You will just have to pry a reward from the Brotherhood. Speak with Bigsley at Project Purity. I'm sure he'll be able to offer you a reward. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
    (DLC03Lepelletier.txt) Note: This line can be attained only at the conclusion of quest Protecting the Water Way.
  16. The Lone Wanderer: "What's Rivet City getting out of helping the Brotherhood?"
    Lepelletier: "At first it was a win-win. They paid us and shared their technology with us. The spoils of their war with the Enclave were particularly enticing. However, with all the recent attacks, the "extra" resources end up being used just protecting the caravans from being exterminated."
  17. The Lone Wanderer: "I still don't understand why the Brotherhood isn't just selling the water."
    Lepelletier: "You'd think that'd be the smart thing, right? Then the caravan drivers could use the markup to simply pay for their own security. Wouldn't need us. Maybe it's an indirect marketing campaign for the Brotherhood. Considering the war with the Enclave, they might need new recruits. Whatever the case, as long as they keep paying us in caps and tech, we'll keep escorting the water."
  18. Marcella's journal
  19. Concept art by Craig Mullins
  20. USS Oriskany on NMA
  21. GDC 2009: Fallout 3 lead opens game design vault
Rivet City
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