|Battle of Wolf 359|
(Part of Borg Incursion of 2366-2367)
The Borg cube holds the critically damaged USS Melbourne in a tractor beam
|Belligerents:||United Federation of Planets|
|Location(s):||Wolf 359 system|
|Scale:||Federation: 40 starships|
Borg: 1 Borg cube
|Result:||Decisive Borg victory|
|Casualties:||Federation: 39 starships destroyed,|
Borg: Light damage to Borg cube
- "Tell me, Captain, have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg? It must have been awful for you, actually becoming one of them, being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty-nine. And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly eleven thousand. One wonders how you can sleep at night, having caused so much destruction."
- — Rear Admiral Norah Satie, 2367
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. The Battle of Wolf 359 was the Federation's disastrous first fleet action against the Borg. It was part of the Borg Incursion of 2366-2367. It is recorded as one of the most destructive battles in Federation history prior to the Dominion War.
It was identified by the Time Lord known as the Doctor as a fixed point in time.
Prelude to Wolf 359
In late 2366, on stardate 43989.1, the USS Enterprise-D arrived at Jouret IV after contact with the New Providence colony was lost twelve hours earlier. 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. An away team determined that the colony was wiped away by weapons similar to those found on the Borg cube encountered by the Enterprise in System J-25. While investigating a planet within that system, scans, performed by the crew of the Enterprise, revealed evidence of a previous advanced civilization on the planet, but also massive surface scarring notably similar to that detected on several Federation and Romulan outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone in 2364, which had removed all machine elements on the planet, suggesting a previous Borg incursion in the Alpha Quadrant. 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 her 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 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, Picard 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.
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 Romulan support was even considered.
In early 2367, around stardate 44002.3, the cube entered the Wolf 359 system. Locutus hailed the assembled fleet, ordering them 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.
During the fighting the USS Saratoga, trapped in the cube's tractor beam, was covertly boarded by Borg drones intent on killing or assimilating senior officers. However, a starship crew sent from 2409 by Q (Junior) defeated the drones, ensuring that the vessel's first officer Benjamin Sisko escaped the ship. 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.
Locutus, using the assimilated tactical knowledge of Picard, directed the battle from the Borg side. 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:
- "The fight does not go well, Enterprise. We're attempting to withdraw and regroup. Rendezvous with fleet—"
Communications were cut off in the midst of this transmission, and no further transmissions were received.
Ultimately, 39 starships were lost with a total loss of nearly 11,000 lives. Many people were assimilated. Only one starship managed to escape the disaster.
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 onboard. The rest of the craft's passengers were most likely assimilated, though it is unknown if Locutus' ship had done this, or if they were assimilated at a later date.
Following the battle, the cube resumed course towards Earth, completely undamaged. The Enterprise, having finally completed repairs, raced to catch up to the Borg. In preparation for a Borg invasion of Earth, a state of emergency was declared on the planet. Using the recaptured Locutus and his link to the collective mind of the Borg, the Enterprise crew however managed to plant subversive commands to deactivate and destroy the Borg ship in Earth orbit.
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. Commander Shelby took command of a special task force to rebuild Starfleet, but it would take up to a year before the fleet returned to previous deployment levels. Debris from the battle remained in the system through 2368. A memorial was set-up and active as of 2409. Rachel Aprile's tactics that she used against the Borg at the Battle of Wolf 359 convinced Starfleet to assign her to Starfleet Academy to oversee the Kobayashi Maru scenario.
Sisko created a holographic program of the Battle of Wolf 359 aboard Deep Space 9 in an attempt to discover if a Starfleet victory was possible.
Initiated in 2367, the development of the heavily armed Defiant-class was a direct result of 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 to counter the Dominion threat, in 2371. Commander Benjamin 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. 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.
In 2367, Admiral Norah Satie used the Battle of Wolf 359 as a pretext to question Captain Picard's integrity during a board of inquiry on Romulan subversion. She implied that Picard's relations with the Borg had led to the battle, and hence he was untrustworthy.
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.
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.
- The stardate given in "Second Sight", 47329.4, suggests that the episode took place only a little over three years after the Battle of Wolf 359, although the anniversary would place it in early 2371.
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 stood against the Borg at Wolf 359, very few Cardassian or Romulan ships survived this encounter with the Dominion.
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.
In 2373, Commander Chakotay encountered the Cooperative, a group of Borg drones whose members included at least one member who had been assimilated at the Battle of Wolf 359 and returned to the Delta Quadrant, but who had later been liberated, thanks to a malfunction.
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.
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.
In 2378, when Picard found himself in a predicament aboard the Scimitar, he was yet again painfully reminded of his experiences as Locutus when Shinzon taunted him with the remark, "What do your Borg friends say? Resistance is futile."
In 2399, Picard faced a far more invasive confrontation with his past as Locutus, when he was forced to visit the Artifact, a derelict Borg cube under Romulan control, in order to save Soji Asha, who Picard believed to be a spiritual daughter of his friend Data who had died in the Shinzon-incident. During his research into the Artifact, he came across an Enterprise-D viewscreen caption of Locutus, which caused him to freeze and to involuntarily check his face for the Borg implants, removed over three decades before. While on the Artifact, Picard was nearly overcome by severe anxiety attacks, complete with memory flashes from his time as Locutus, but was quite literally brought back from the brink by an old acquaintance, the xB Hugh, who served as director of the Borg Reclamation Project on the Artifact, and who not only helped Picard to come to grips with his past experiences to some extent, but also helped him to achieve his mission. While escaping the Artifact, Picard was recognized by one of the xBs as Locutus, just as he had feared before he set foot on the derelict cube. (PIC episode: "The Impossible Box")
Incidentally, Hugh too initially referred to Picard by his Borg designation when the latter had helped him to regain his individuality, one year after the battle. (TNG episode: "I Borg")
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 they had escaped it through the 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 it.
In a parallel universe, Jake Sisko died aboard the USS Saratoga during the battle, an event which destroyed his father Benjamin Sisko's Starfleet career, his marriage to Jake's mother Jennifer Sisko and almost Benjamin's will to live.
Starships at Wolf 359
A fleet of 40 Federation starships was mobilized for the assault. In all, 39 starships were lost, at a cost of nearly 11,000 lives.