|Battle of Wolf 359|
|The Borg Cube fires on a Federation vessel.|
|United Federation of Planets||Borg Collective|
|Admiral J.P. Hanson†||Locutus of Borg|
|40 starships||One Borg cube|
|Casualties and losses|
| 39 starships destroyed|
11,000 killed or assimilated
|Minimal, if any|
The Battle of Wolf 359 took place in 2367 in the Wolf 359 system, roughly eight light years from Earth, between the forces of the United Federation of Planets and the Borg Collective. It is recorded as one of the most destructive battles in Federation history prior to the Dominion War.
Prelude to Wolf 359
In 2366, on stardate 43989.1, the USS Enterprise-D arrived at Jouret IV, twelve hours after contact with the New Providence colony was lost. The colony was found to have been completely destroyed, literally scooped from the planet's surface.
Admiral J.P. Hanson and Lieutenant Commander Shelby of Starfleet Tactical arrived to investigate the disappearance. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds") An away team determined that the colony had been wiped away by weapons similar to those found on a Borg cube encountered by the Enterprise in System J-25. While investigating a planet within that system, the Enterprise had found corresponding devastation as that on Jouret IV. (TNG: "Q Who", "The Best of Both Worlds") Likewise, devastation of this kind had been found even earlier, in 2364, on several Federation and Romulan outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone, suggesting a previous Borg incursion in the Alpha Quadrant. (TNG: "The Neutral Zone", "Q Who")
Starfleet immediately began preparations for a possible Borg invasion. Admiral Hanson returned to Starbase 324 to discuss strategy with Starfleet Command. Starfleet imposed a fleet-wide standing yellow alert, and warned all Federation and allied outposts. That evening at 1900 hours, the USS Lalo departed Zeta Alpha II on a freight run to Sentinel Minor IV. At 2212 hours, Starbase 157 received a signal from the Lalo, reporting contact with a cubical object. The signal was cut off mid-transmission, and no response was received to further hails.
Upon receiving this information from Admiral Hanson, the USS Enterprise set a course for the Lalo's last known location. With Starfleet reinforcements at least six days away, the Enterprise was on its own. En route to the coordinates, contact was made with the unknown vessel: a Borg cube. News was relayed to Admiral Hanson, who had begun to assemble a fleet to combat the invasion. The Borg demanded that the Enterprise captain, Jean-Luc Picard, beam himself aboard their vessel for an unspecified purpose. After a brief exchange of fire, the Enterprise retreated into the Paulson Nebula, with the Borg vessel close behind.
Hiding in the dust cloud, the Enterprise and her crew prepared for the inevitable resumption of conflict. Attempting to force the starship out, the Borg launched magnetometric-guided charges into the nebula, causing minor damage to the Enterprise. Picard ordered the ship out of hiding, and in the ensuing attack, he was captured by the Borg, who then left at high warp, en route to Sector 001 and the core of the Federation.
The cube maintained its course, with the Enterprise in hot pursuit. William T. Riker, as acting captain, planned to force the cube out of warp in order to attack it, using the Enterprise's deflector dish. An away team led by Lieutenant Commander Shelby was sent over to the vessel, and succeeded in taking the Borg cube out of warp. In the process, it was discovered that Captain Picard had been assimilated by the Collective – he had been transformed into a Borg drone with the designation Locutus of Borg. Having temporarily disabled the cube, the Enterprise launched its deflector weapon. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")
The cube easily shrugged off the Enterprise's assault with the unwilling aid of Picard's knowledge, and resumed its course to the Sol system. The Enterprise was forced to stay behind, having suffered extensive damage to its deflector array and warp core. In the meantime, Admiral Hanson and Starfleet Command had hastily assembled a fleet of forty starships, with more on the way. The Klingon Empire was in the process of dispatching warships of its own to assist in the defense, and the possibility of requesting support from the Romulan Star Empire was even considered. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
In 2367, around stardate 44002.3, the cube entered the Wolf 359 system. Locutus hailed the assembled fleet, ordering the ships therein to disarm and escort the cube to the Sol system. Immediately thereafter, the fleet engaged the Borg.
The Excelsior-class USS Melbourne was among the first ships destroyed, with its saucer section partially vaporized while approaching. The Miranda-class USS Saratoga was quickly neutralized, thereafter. When the Ambassador-class USS Yamaguchi and the Nebula-class USS Bellerophon rushed to rescue their trapped sister ships, they, too, were destroyed, along with numerous other starships entering the combat zone. Their valiant efforts notwithstanding did not prevent the eventual destruction of the USS Saratoga and the USS Bonestell.
Locutus, using the assimilated tactical knowledge of Picard, directed the battle from the Borg side. (DS9: "Emissary") After bare minutes of combat, the fleet was faced with utter defeat. Admiral Hanson attempted to rally the remaining ships to launch a last-ditch assault, but his ship was destroyed shortly thereafter. His final words were to Captain Riker of the Enterprise, whom he contacted briefly during the course of the battle. Communications were cut off in the midst of this transmission, and no further transmissions were received. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
At least one civilian transport craft was caught in the battle. The ship was heavily damaged and had to evacuate its crew and passengers via their escape pods. The mother of one Starfleet officer was on board. The rest of the craft's passengers were most likely assimilated, though it is unknown if Locutus' ship did this, or if they were assimilated at a later date. (VOY: "Infinite Regress")
Starships at Wolf 359
The following is a partial list of the confirmed Federation starships that participated in the Battle of Wolf 359. The amassed fleet of forty Federation starships was mobilized for the assault, leaving merely the one surviving starship. (TNG: "The Drumhead", "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
|USS Ahwahnee||NCC-71620||Cheyenne-class||Critically damaged, all hands lost, salvaged, refurbished and returned to duty|
|USS Kyushu||NCC-65491||New Orleans-class||Destroyed|
|USS Roosevelt (USS Roosevelt (NCC-2573) (β))||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|USS Tolstoy||Unknown||Unknown (Rigel class (β))||Unknown|
Following the battle, the cube resumed course towards Earth, completely undamaged. The Enterprise, having finally completed repairs, raced to catch up to the Borg. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II") In preparation for a Borg invasion of Earth, a state of emergency was declared on the planet. (DS9: "Homefront") Brushing aside the last line of defense by easily destroying a flotilla of Mars Defense Perimeter sentry pods, the Borg cube took up position in Earth orbit. However, using the recaptured Locutus and his link to the collective mind of the Borg, the Enterprise crew managed to plant subversive commands to deactivate and destroy the Borg ship . (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
Although the outcome of the invasion could have been much worse, the result of the battle was nothing short of disaster. The loss of such a large number of starships left the Federation unprepared for any new sustained conflict. (TNG: "The Wounded") Commander Shelby took command of a special task force to rebuild Starfleet, but returning the fleet to previous deployment levels was expected to take up to a year. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
Initiated around 2367, the development of the heavily armed Defiant-class was a direct result from the battle. However, as the Borg scare abated somewhat, the development process was slowed down, until it was decided to commission the prototype vessel USS Defiant (NX-74205) to counter the Dominion threat, in 2371. Commander Benjamin L. Sisko, the former first officer of the lost USS Saratoga and a survivor of the battle, was part of the team which developed the Defiant. (DS9: "The Search, Part I") The ship was called upon to fulfill its original design intent, during a subsequent Borg incursion in 2373, when it battled a Borg cube in the Battle of Sector 001. (Star Trek: First Contact)
In 2367, Admiral Norah Satie used the Battle of Wolf 359 as a means to question Captain Picard's integrity, during an inquiry board on Romulan subversion. She implied that Picard's relations with the Borg had led to the battle, and hence he was untrustworthy. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
In 2369, Picard again was painfully confronted with the consequences of Locutus' actions, as he met Commander Sisko for a briefing while the latter took command of Deep Space 9. Sisko was, on that occasion, only barely able to contain his disdain for Picard, whom he blamed for the death of his wife, she having been lost in the battle. (DS9: "Emissary")
In 2370, for a few nights around the time of the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Wolf 359, memories of the battle and the death of his wife caused Benjamin Sisko to suffer a bout of insomnia. These painful recollections were subconsciously triggered by the anniversary of the battle. (DS9: "Second Sight")
In 2371, Vice Admiral Toddman commented to Sisko that the Battle of the Omarion Nebula between the Dominion and a joint Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order fleet sounded "like Wolf 359, all over again." Sisko admitted that he had had the same thought. Like the Starfleet ships that withstood the Borg at Wolf 359, very few Cardassian or Romulan ships survived this encounter with the Dominion. (DS9: "The Die is Cast")
In 2372, Benjamin Sisko's father, Joseph Sisko, remarked to his son that the threat of a Dominion invasion of Earth had frightened the population of the planet to a degree not seen since the Borg scare. (DS9: "Homefront")
In 2373, Commander Chakotay encountered the Borg Cooperative, a group of Borg drones whose members included many who had been assimilated at the Battle of Wolf 359 but who had later been liberated, thanks to a malfunction. (VOY: "Unity")
In 2373, in the run-up to what was to become the Battle of Sector 001 involving another Borg cube, Vice Admiral Hayes ordered Captain Picard, now commanding the USS Enterprise-E, to stay out of the upcoming battle. Despite Picard's protestations, it was felt that he would add an "unstable element to a critical situation", due to his experiences as Locutus in the Wolf 359 crisis. Eventually, Picard opted to ignore his orders and entered into the fray, proving that instead of being a liability, his experiences were rather an asset in that battle. (Star Trek: First Contact)
In 2374, the Alpha Hirogen Karr, in control of the USS Voyager, wanted to create a simulation of the Battle of Wolf 359, as it was one of the "notorious battles" of the Federation. (VOY: "The Killing Game")
In another quantum reality, the Borg had completely decimated the Federation by 2370. A battered Enterprise-D, which was likewise under the command of Captain Riker, was one of the few remaining Starfleet ships left. The Riker of this reality was desperate not to return to his universe, after the crew had escaped from it through a quantum fissure. They attempted to stop Worf from sealing the fissure. Their Enterprise-D was destroyed, due to warp core containment field failure, when another Enterprise-D attempted to disable the aforementioned warp core. (TNG: "Parallels")
The Battle of Wolf 359 was never portrayed in full on-screen. Due to budgetary limitations, only the aftermath was seen in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". Instead, the producers created a memorable scene by portraying the drifting wreckage and stunned reactions, upon viewing the carnage, of the Enterprise's bridge officers. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary) Two and a half years later, portions of the battle were shown as a flashback in the teaser for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot, "Emissary". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 17-18)
Depicting the battle
The depiction of the battle in "Emissary" was originally much more elaborate. DS9's visual effects supervisor Robert Legato was instructed to compose the battle footage before live-action production commenced. He recalled, "It was fun to do because I was allowed to make it up from scratch; there was no backlog of stock footage for it. The script said that they were right in the middle of this big fierce, ugly battle, and I had tons of debris in all the shots. Ships that were burning, on fire, flying past the camera. I made sure that all the debris had the correct names on it, the names of the ships that were mentioned in 'The Best of Both Worlds', so the episodes would tie together." Unfortunately, Legato had to re-composite the footage, as the decision was made to shoot the live-action as if the ships were about to enter into the battle. "I had to go back and take all the extraneous ships out. It was a heartbreaker, because it was a lot of work and very good-looking stuff–much bigger than anything seen on a TNG show." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 17-18) Legato had used some debris stock footage from the "The Best of Both Worlds" episode, but virtually all of it had to be left out, save for a fleeting shot of a hulk seen in the window of Sisko's escape pod as it left the Saratoga. That shot was previously used as the burning hulk of the USS Melbourne in "The Best of Both Worlds", as identified in dialog spoken therein. In "Emissary", however, it was that of a nameless hulk, as the name Melbourne was now usurped by the Excelsior-class vessel, destroyed a few scenes earlier on. Still, it has the distinction of being the only studio model, besides the Borg cube, present in both depictions of the Battle of Wolf 359 and its aftermath.
Depicting the aftermath
A variety of new "kitbash" starship classes were constructed to depict the floating wrecks in the aftermath of the battle, which included the Freedom-class, the Niagara-class, the Cheyenne-class, the Challenger-class, the Springfield-class, the New Orleans-class, and the Nebula-class. (Of all these starship classes, only the Nebula-class went on to make further appearances.) The Freedom- and Niagara-classes were constructed by Greg Jein, Inc., using that organization's own production assets.  The other classes were constructed by Ed Miarecki , using AMT Star Trek model kits (No's 6618 and 6619). The ships that were created by Miarecki were embellished with custom-made parts and appropriately modified and battle-damaged by Michael Okuda.  Likewise, the Mars Defense Perimeter sentry pod was also a kitbash, this one constructed by Rick Sternbach, who used parts of submarine model kits to create the pod.  Though not discernible on-screen, Okuda did fabricate names and registry numbers to be applied onto some of the models, "I had custom rub-ons, called INTs, made. Not decals, but yes, they did have names and registry numbers. The Melbourne, Kyushu, and Chekov were specifically labeled as such because of the script references to those ships. I didn't know about the re-voiced name (Tolstoy) until I saw the final episode on the air, so I didn't do a label for that ship." 
Despite lasting only a few seconds, the scene in which three sentry pods are destroyed while the Borg cube passes Mars entailed a lot of work, such as the sentry pod having to be multiplied and "destroyed" in post-production. The scene was particularly challenging because it involved so many different elements that had to be composited together. Robert Legato, who served as a visual effects supervisor not only on DS9 but also on TNG, observed, "If it's a battle sequence that involves three or four ships, the work goes up in geometric proportions. For ten seconds of screen time, you've shot four or five days. That's a big shot. It has Mars in it, it has the starfield, the three ships blowing up, and the Borg ship flying towards us and away." This partly explains why, at that point in time, it was decided not to show the battle on-screen. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 33)
Uncertain starships at Wolf 359
The following is a listing of ships that were either referred to in canon or mentioned in valid resource material by production staffers as having potential connections with the battle, but are not canonically confirmed as having such.
|USS Gage (USS Gage (β))||NCC-11672||Apollo-class|
|Unknown (Admiral Hanson's ship)||Unknown||Galaxy-class|
The script of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" states Admiral Hanson's ship was a Galaxy-class starship.  This would be supported by the fact that his message to the crew of the USS Enterprise-D came from a Galaxy-class battle bridge. There was also a free-floating Galaxy-class type of nacelle seen in the debris field, though several other classes use similar nacelles as well.
A scene cut from the aired version of "Emissary" mentions the USS Gage in dialog, ordered to attack the Borg cube with the Melbourne and the Kyushu.  Although this line did not make it into the episode's aired edit, the Star Trek Encyclopedia states the ship was involved in the battle and was an Apollo-class starship with the registry NCC-11672. The USS Roosevelt is stated to be an Excelsior-class starship with the registry NCC-2573 and the USS Tolstoy is stated to be a Rigel-class starship with the registry NCC-62095. A statement quoted by Captain Kathryn Janeway in "Scorpion" from Captain Amasov leaves it open to interpretation if the USS Endeavour was involved in this battle or another unknown skirmish with the Borg, prior to 2371. The Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed. pp. 135, 604) states this ship was a Nebula-class starship, likely involved in the Battle of Wolf 359, and the sole surviving ship.
According to The Art of Star Trek, the concept models used to portray the B-24-CLN and a ship previously seen on-screen at Spacedock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, were also photographed as part of the debris field seen in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". The presence of both in said scene has yet to be confirmed in the aired version of the episode. There are, however, several deep background objects that still remain unidentified. It is also feasible that the models were filmed but that this footage was originally not used in the compositions for "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". Surplus Depot Z15 scenes in TNG: "Unification I" were mostly composed from shots previously made for the former episode, and the B-24-CLN at least was clearly identifiable in them. Text commentary on the Star Trek III: The Search for Spock DVD states that the model built for the auto-destruct scene of the USS Enterprise was re-used to portray some of the wreckage.
As to the ship listings of the participants in the battle, Michael Okuda remarked, "The various 'mystery' ships in the BOBW2 listings in the Encyclopedia were all ships that were either referred to in dialog, or were models that were filmed for the 'graveyard' scene. We did not make up any specifically to flesh out the Encyclopedia, although we (the production staff) did NOT come up with a definitive list of ships in the battle. I was tempted to try to develop one, but it occured to me that future episodes might need to 'remember' a previously forgotten Wolf 359 ship for as-yet-unwritten storylines, just as the DS9 pilot did with Sisko's ship, the Saratoga." 
The Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Unity" and "Infinite Regress" refer to people being assimilated during the battle and subsequently being returned to the Delta Quadrant, perhaps suggesting the presence of an undetected second Borg vessel which returned to Borg territory. In fact, "Infinite Regress" suggests that Seven of Nine personally assimilated at least one of those people.
While the Klingon starships mentioned in dialog (specifically, in Hanson's pronouncement, "We've mobilized a fleet of forty starships at Wolf 359 and that's just for starters... the Klingons are sending warships..." ) were never seen on-screen during the battle, in "Unity", when Chakotay entered a neural link with the Borg Cooperative, he witnessed a battle between a Klingon squadron and a Borg cube of the same type that Starfleet engaged at Wolf 359.
In "Dark Frontier", the Borg Queen states that she was present at the battle, a fact confirmed by Picard's memories of her, as shown in Star Trek: First Contact. When Picard asks the Borg Queen (in that film) how she survived the battle, she replies it is sad that he only thinks in "three-dimensional terms." She is later on similarly also portrayed as surviving the total destruction of her own personal ship in "Dark Frontier".
According to licensed but non-canon sources, the following ships additionally participated in the battle:
|USS Hoagland (USS Hoagland (β))||Unknown||Miranda-class|
|USS Kadosca (USS Kadosca (β))||NCC-1994-C||Ambassador-class|
|USS Melbourne (USS Melbourne (Nebula class) (β))||NCC-62043||Nebula-class|
|USS Reliant (USS Reliant (24th century) (β))||Unknown||Miranda-class|
|USS Righteous (USS Righteous (β))||NCC-42451||Excelsior-class|
|USS Yorktown||NCC-61137||Zodiac-class (Zodiac class (β))|
According to the short story Trust Yourself When All Men Doubt You in the novel The Sky's the Limit, the Nebula-class wreckage seen in the debris field in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" and "Emissary" was, in fact, a second USS Melbourne, launched early while still under construction. According to the novel The Return (written by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens), one starship at the battle was the Miranda-class USS Hoagland. The Peter David novel Vendetta also mentions that one Galaxy-class ship was destroyed in the battle.
In the 1994 Malibu Comics Star Trek: Deep Space Nine issue #6, the USS Kyushu and the USS Melbourne were depicted as an Excelsior-class starship and a standard-configuration Nebula-class vessel. It was not stated which was intended to be which. The canonical Kyushu was a New Orleans-class ship. Also, starships USS Hood, USS Potemkin, USS Reliant and USS Yorktown were stated to have been at the battle. In the 1997 Marvel Comics Star Trek: Voyager comic book contained in issue #10, a story entitled "Ghosts" deals with survivors of Wolf 359, trapped in a temporal rift. Three Miranda-class ships (one with a "roll bar"), and a dozen or so Federation starships of unidentiable class were depicted as being at the battle, as were a Nebula-class, a Galaxy-class, and an Excelsior-class ship. Also, at least one Klingon Bird-of-Prey, at least three K't'inga-class starships and one Vor'cha-class ship were seen fighting the Borg cube. The USS Melbourne was stated to have been Admiral Hanson's ship.
The video game Star Trek: Borg has Q sending the player back in time to this battle to prevent the destruction of the Excelsior-class USS Righteous, which (at the time) was assumed to have been destroyed. The game culminates with the player and the ship being sent to the present by Q, after the player has averted the ship's destruction, thus allowing the timeline to be preserved and give the Righteous the chance to gain a unique amount of information about the Borg. According to the video game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Crossroads of Time, the Ambassador-class starship USS Kadosca was destroyed in the battle. According to the video game Starship Creator, the USS Victory also participated in the Battle of Wolf 359. Purportedly, the Victory was able to escape total destruction but suffered heavy damage, with the ship's first officer also being killed.
The 2008 novel Greater than the Sum confirmed that many people were assimilated during the battle but, since the Borg cube had only a certain number of drone slots, they were sent back to the Delta Quadrant on that ship's Borg sphere. In the Star Trek novels that William Shatner wrote with the Reeves-Stevens, the Battle of Wolf 359 also occurred in the mirror universe. However, this battle was between the Terran Empire and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. The Terrans were routed, and the Alliance bombarded Earth, vaporizing the Great Lakes and other landlocked bodies of water.
Star Trek Online features a mission wherein the player, aboard the USS Saratoga, is sent back in time by Q to prevent the death of Benjamin Sisko. The player can also go to Wolf 359 and view a memorial to the battle and its victims.