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First Battle of Chin'toka

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First Battle of Chin'toka
Part of the Dominion War
Akira orbital weapon platform.jpg

Cardassian Orbital weapons platforms open fire on an Akira-class starship

Cardassian Orbital weapons platforms open fire on an Akira-class starship
Date: 2374
Location: Chin'toka system
Result: Tactical Federation Alliance victory
Chin'toka system captured by Federation
Belligerents
Federation Alliance
United Federation of Planets
Klingon Empire
Romulan Star Empire
Dominion
Jem'Hadar
Cardassian Union
Notable commanders
General Martok
Captain Benjamin Sisko
Major Kira Nerys
Weyoun
Legate Damar
Strength
1 Defiant-class starship
2+ Akira-class starships
5+ Galaxy-class starships
2+ Excelsior-class starships
3 Miranda-class starships
15+ Klingon Bird-of-Prey
5+ Vor'cha-class Battle cruisers
at least 8 D'deridex-class Warbirds
Several hundred orbital weapon platforms
5 Jem'Hadar attack ship squadrons (at least 16 ships)
Casualties and losses
Heavy, including:
18+ (at least 4) Birds of Prey and (at least 3) Vor'cha battle cruisers
2 Akira-class ships
1 Miranda-class ship
1 Excelsior-class ship
2+ D'deridex-class ships.
All weapon platforms
All Jem'Hadar attack ships
Chin'toka system

The First Battle of Chin'toka was the first offensive launched by the Federation Alliance into territory held by the Dominion during the Dominion War. The battle, fought in late 2374, was a tactical and psychological victory for the allies, but failed to lead to a general invasion of Cardassian space. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets") The heavy losses sustained in the battle forced the Allies to remain bottled up in the system so they were not able to advance any further, and as a result were easily contained by the Dominion. The system remained under almost constant attack until it was re-taken following the Dominion's alliance with the Breen. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")

Prelude

Apart from the short and successful campaign to retake starbase Deep Space 9 during Operation Return about eight months previously, the Federation and Klingon Empire was fighting a wholly defensive war. Key Federation planets including Betazed, Coridan, and Benzar all fell to the Jem'Hadar, while the core worlds of Vulcan, Alpha Centauri, and Earth were coming into range of the Dominion war machine.

However, with the sudden entry of the Romulan Star Empire into the war (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight"), the allies had enough combined firepower to launch a full offensive on Dominion-held territory. Starfleet Command, in conjunction with the Klingon and Romulan high commands, agreed that the war could be won only by taking the war into enemy territory.

Chintoka tactical map

The invasion plan

The Chin'toka system, located on the Cardassian border, was chosen because the Dominion had drastically weakened the complement of warships defending the system – only five squadrons of Jem'Hadar attack ships were left to defend Chin'toka, while the rest were sent to fight on the Romulan border. Admiral Ross, General Martok, and Senator Letant ordered an immediate buildup of warships at Deep Space 9 for an attack on Chin'toka.

A deleted scene also depicted the deliberation over the Ventani system and Torg'Q system, before settling on Chin'toka.
Cardassian orbital weapon platform

Orbital weapon platforms

However, the Chin'toka System was not left as undefended as the allies believed. The Cardassians had developed a new type of orbital weapon platform that compressed a huge amount of weaponry into an independently deployable hull barely fifty meters long. The platforms were protected by regenerative force fields, and armed with 3 heavy disruptor cannons and 1,000 plasma torpedoes. Hundreds of the platforms were placed around the two inhabited planets in the Chin'toka system.

The allies' intelligence detected the deployment of these weapons barely three days before they were scheduled to go online. However, because of the lack of other vulnerable targets, the decision was made to take the small window of opportunity available and attempt to destroy the platforms before they became operational.

The Battle

As the combined fleet entered the Chin'toka System, it seemed as if the allies' projections had been true – Chin'toka was practically undefended and the automated defenses were off-line. Quick victory appeared within reach, with the odds overwhelmingly in the allies' favor.

Vorcha class destroyed

A Vor'cha-class attack cruiser is destroyed by the Jem'Hadar

USS Galaxy

The USS Galaxy and a Cardassian orbital weapon platform exchange weapons fire on each other

The small contingent of Jem'Hadar attack ships defending the system had little care for the odds, though, and brazenly attacked the fleet's flank. In the space of just two minutes, the Jem'Hadar ships managed to cripple or destroy at least 15 Klingon warships – many by ramming the Klingons directly. Undaunted, the fleet advanced into the midst of the deactivated platforms and proceeded to demolish them without resistance.

However, the Cardassians were able to get the weapon platforms on-line before the allied fleet had a chance to destroy too many of them. The orbital weapons platforms' effect proved devastating – protected by their powerful regenerative shields, the Cardassians could pour heavy fire upon the attacking fleet while suffering practically no losses themselves. Several dozen starships were disabled or destroyed by the platforms' furious barrage. Rather than retreat, however, Captain Sisko chose to continue the fight, correctly believing that if the defense platforms could be defeated, then the system would fall to the allies.

In the chaos of the battle, an unusual anomaly was detected by Elim Garak – none of the weapons platforms carried their own power source, but were instead powered by a single central generator. This generator was located on a small asteroidal moon in a low orbit around one of the two inhabited Chin'toka planets. If it could be destroyed, the platforms would be powerless.

Chintoka asteroid-moon exploding

The platforms' power generator explodes

The allies attempted a frontal assault, but proved unable to penetrate the asteroid's defensive shields even with the sustained fire from multiple starships. Chief Miles O'Brien of the USS Defiant proposed tricking the automated platforms to fire on their own power source. Using the ship's deflector array, O'Brien imprinted a Federation warp signature on the generator, making it appear as if it were an enemy vessel. The orbiting platforms immediately locked onto this large new signal, pouring fire into the asteroid and quickly destroying it.

Without more incoming power, the orbital platforms quickly fell silent and were once again easy targets for the allied fleet. Once the grid was shut down and thus posed no more threat, General Martok began transporting ground troops to the surface of both planets. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")

It is unclear if the allies destroyed all the deactivated orbital weapon platforms they encountered at Chintoka or captured some and took them back to their respective homeworlds for further study. However, Federation starships are seen destroying at least some of the platforms at the end of the battle.

Starships present

The following is a partial list of Federation Alliance starships present at the battle.

Ship Name Registry Class
USS Defiant NX-74205 Defiant-class
USS Galaxy NCC-70637 Galaxy-class
USS Hood NCC-42296 Excelsior-class
USS Nautilus NCC-31910 Miranda-class
IKS Rotarran N/A Klingon Bird-of-Prey
USS ShirKahr NCC-31905 Miranda-class
USS Tian An Men NCC-21382 Miranda-class
USS Valley Forge NCC-43305 Excelsior-class
USS Venture NCC-71854 Galaxy-class

As well as:

The Aftermath

Although the hoped-for grand offensive into Dominion territory failed to develop after Chin'toka, the battle nevertheless had major consequences for the conduct of the remainder of the war. The Dominion faced their first major defeat since operation Return six months previously, as well as the spectacular failure of the orbital weapons platforms, which had been a key plan for the Cardassians to upgrade their defensive capabilities.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the allies had the opportunity to examine large caches of Dominion weapons and technology, most notably Relay Station AR-558, which provided a crucial boost on the allies' knowledge of enemy capabilities. However, although the Chin'toka system was nominally in Federation control, it was constantly under attack by Dominion forces. (DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")

Ultimately, the first Battle of Chin'toka proved to have the most impact in terms of morale, as well as reversing the nearly-constant Dominion advances of the preceding six months as more Jem'Hadar had to be diverted for defensive reinforcements. Although the system was lost to the Dominion in the Second Battle of Chin'toka approximately eight months later, Chin'toka had played an important role in the course of the war.

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