?In the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry, there are a myriad of iconic images many people remember: Green Orion slave girls, the Borg, phasers, heroes, villains, and that big-headed alien that Clint Howard pretends to be that shows up at the end of the credits of the original series, and more. But take anyone off the street, and odds are they can identify at least one incarnation of the USS Enterprise. Starships have long been one of the easily recognizable parts of Star Trek lore; while Roddenbery’s vision of the future was for the most part peaceful, with brains far exceeding brawn, not all conflict could be resolved by hugging it out.
Sometimes your typical starship just wasn’t enough. In the Star Trek arms race, there always seemed like the need for bigger, better, and with more guns. In countless episodes, the Enterprise (or some other ship) was horribly outmatched by some larger or unknown enemy combatant. Below are the top 15 most devastating (or potentially devastating) ships in the Star Trek universe. Two notes: While firepower is obviously the major consideration when examining the “devastating” capabilities of starships, “context” also matters — you’ll see what I mean. The other note is that this list is of space vessels, and not just starships — if it travels in space, it counts for the purposes of this list. With those two caveats, enjoy.
15) Whale Probe, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home truly changed how people viewed science fiction. No longer was sci-fi strictly for nerds; it became accessible to larger audiences and the film itself was immensely popular. It also changed what we viewed as a typical sci-fi villain, with the Whale Probe.
Not inherently evil, the Whale Probe was a very unique and strange opponent. Apparently modeled after a fine Cuban cigar, the While Probe is enormous, dwarfing even Spacedock. While it is not obvious if she has any offensive weaponry, her powerful transmissions are enough to disable any starship that dares come near her, crippling eight vessels en route to Earth, as well as Spacedock and everything in it. In her search for humpback whales in Earth’s oceans, her transmissions become devastating on a global scale, by vaporizing earth’s oceans, which in turn erects an impenetrable cloud covering across the globe, and significantly lowers temperatures around the planet.
The Probe’s destructive rampage is only stopped when Admiral Kirk and crew give the Probe exactly what it wants, — a chat with a pair of humpback whales, brought from the 20th century. The Probe shut off its communications device and left for bluer seas, and that was the last the Probe was seen. However, the Probe did return in the aptly named sequel novel Probe, where the Probe visited Romulan space, where it’s revealed that the Probe was built by a race of whale-like aliens who had apparently at one time did battle with and defeated the Borg, who in turn blew up the Probe Aliens’ star, because the Borg are assholes.
14) Crystalline Entity, Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Datalore”)
What do you call a gigantic, warp speed-flying, heavily armed, hungry-ass, pissed off snowflake? The frakking Crystalline Entity, that’s what. This oversized, living electromagnetic collector has the power to consume all life on any surface it touches, whether it be starship or planet. More importantly, it renders said area effectively sterile, with nothing being able to grow there ever again. We first encounter the Entity when we also meet Lore, Data’s douchebag, overly emotional twin brother; apparently Lore was working with the Entity, lining up its next meals. Once Lore was defeated, however, the Entity turned tail and ran.
Some time later, the Entity was up to its old people-munching ways, and decides to turn Melona IV into its latest snack. This time, Entity expert Dr. Marr, pissed off because the Entity killed a good portion of her family, decides to communicate with it. Well, at least that’s what she said she was going to do; instead she plotted to and succeeded in killing the Entity, much to the dismay of the Enterprise crew.
The story doesn’t end there, however, as apparently the Entity is just one member of an entire race of space-faring star crystals. While never seen again in any of the series, the USS Titan under the command of Captain Will Riker encountered one in the book Orion’s Hounds, and a very large and dangerous version of the species is encounter in a difficult Fleet Action mission in Star Trek Online, where it is able to decimate starships like it’s swatting flies.
13) Nomad, Star Trek (“The Changeling”)
While investigating a distress call from the Malurian system, the Enterprise discovers that the planet Malur has been devastated, rendering the planet and its population of 4 billion lifeless. Suddenly the Enterprise falls under attack by an energy beam with the force of 90 photon torpedoes. But it’s not the Death Star attacking, it’s a one-meter long cylindrical probe with a bad attitude doing the shooting. When the Enterprise fires back, it has no effect, and the Captain has to resort to boring old diplomacy. Hailing frequencies are opened, and NOMAD the space probe beams aboard.
Apparently Nomad has daddy issues, as it instantly latched on to Captain Kirk, mistaking him for his creator Dr. Roykirk. Although not much can be said for Dr. Roykirk, because if Nomad is to be believed, he was programmed to “find and sterilize imperfection,” essentially turning this space probe into the universe’s most powerful space Nazi. So, Kirk spends the rest of the episode trying to teach Nomad how not to be an asshole, while Nomad essentially tells everyone to bite his shiny metal ass. Upon further investigation, it is discovered that Nomad only became an asshole when he collided with another probe programmed to sterilize soil samples, got confused, and began to think of every living in the universe as dirty. Only after convincing Nomad that he is fucked up does Kirk get Nomad to self-destruct, saving the day.
12) Cloud Creature, Star Trek: The Animated Series (“One of Our Planets is Missing”)
The Enterprise sure has a knack for running into planet-devouring space entities, but the Pallas 14 cloud creature is a different sort of planet killer. More biological than mechanical, the Cloud Creature is first seen engulfing the planet Alondra. Once it covers the planet, it proceeds to break it down, similar to a digestive process. Of course, the cloud doesn’t just stick to uninhabited planets, and makes a quick course correction for Mantilles with a severe case of the munchies.
It’s determined that the only way to destroy the creature is to fly through its digestive tract to the center, and self-destruct the ship. Thankfully at the last minute, Spock is able to get metaphysical with the Creature, shows it a futuristic PITA recruiting video, and the creature vows to go vegan and heads off into the unexplored universe in search of planets with less meat.
11) U.S.S. Prometheus, Star Trek: Voyager (“Message in a Bottle”)
What’s better than a Federation starship? How about three Federation starships? That is apparently what Starfleet engineers were thinking when they designed the USS Prometheus, because it’s three, three, three ships in one!
Hijacked by the Romulans in 2374, the USS Prometheus looks like a pretty typical Federation ship, similar in design to other Sovereign-class ships. It’s when she enters combat that she truly begins to shine. While already packing standard Federation weapons, the Prometheus also is equipped with ablative armor and regenerative shields, but the real secret to her success is the multi-vector assault mode. Like the Enterprise-D’s saucer separation, the Prometheus is able to split into three heavily armed starships, giving it a major tactical advantage. It is so much of an advantage that the Prometheus is able to single-handedly take on a D’deridex-class Klingon Warbird.
However, the Prometheus is not without its disadvantages, the most glaring of which is its Emergency Medical Hologram, which takes the form of Andy Dick. And to make matters worse, holo-emmiters are on every inch of the ship, so there is absolutely no escape from Dick. I’m talking morning, day, night, afternoon: Dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick.
Thanks to a massive misunderstanding caused by interference from the Temporal Cold War, the Xindi, a collection of alien species, determined that Earth was evil and would destroy them in the future. Their solution: the Xindi Superweapon.
This bowling ball of doom was short on aesthetics, but large on power. Its highly powerful particle beam weapon was specifically designed to destroy planets, which it demonstrated pretty well while tagging Florida graffiti-style, just with particle beams. The result was a scar going down the eastern seaboard, making a new deep ocean trench, and finally making a stop in Venezuela before self-destructing. At the end of the day, 7 million people were deep fat fried, including Chief Engineer Trip Tucker’s sister. Thankfully, Starfleet was able to work it all out with the Xindi, as this was merely the prototype weapon — a version in an alternate universe was much larger and was able to barbeque the Earth in seconds, Death Star-style.
9) U.S.S. Defiant NCC-1764, Enterprise (“In a Mirror, Darkly”)
At the end of the episode “The Tolian Web,” the USS Defiant was lost, pulled through a hole in the space-time continuum to the unknown. The Enterprise believed that the ship was lost and went on her way, but the story didn’t end for the Defiant.
Apparently, the other side of the rabbit hole ended up being the mirror “Goateed Spock” universe, where humans are pretty much assholes. Captured by the Tholians and set to be salvaged, somehow word gets to Enterprise first officer Commander Jonathan Archer, who is ordered by Admiral Black to investigate. Archer is able to retrieve the ship built over one hundred years in the future, and uses that future technology to wreak havoc, single-handedly destroying a strike force consisting of five separate starships. Archers plans are put to an end due to the intervention of the new Empress Hoshi Sato, who at the end of the episode seems to hold Earth hostage with the intent of taking full control of the Empire. While it is not known what happens next (at least not in Star Trek canon), with weaponry one hundred years from the future at her grasp, it looks like Empress Sato has a stilettoed boot on the throat of humanity.
8) U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (“The Search”)
It’s apparent when it is introduced that the Defiant is the bastard step-child that no one likes to talk about in Starfleet — and rightly so, with the Federation’s tree-hugging hippy outlook on the universe and all. While all of their ships have been armed, Starfleet’s mission has always been one of peace,” and the concept of a starship dedicated to combat doesn’t exactly juibe with that. It takes Commander Sisko to see the Defiant’s true potential.
The Defiant is a rather unusual design for a Starfleet vessel. Gone are the smooth curves we’ve gotten used to in ships like the Galaxy and Sovereign class starships. The Defiant has more of the artistic lines of a warthog rather than a great bird in space. But the Defiant wasn’t made to look pretty — it’s what’s inside that counts.
First off, in addition to her standard phaser arrays, the Defiant was armed with four phaser cannons. Until this episode, all we had see on starships was the standard “beam-like” phaser; the phaser cannon behaved more like a gun, and was incredibly devastating when fired in bursts, all four cannons blazing. As if that wasn’t enough, the Defiant was also packing six Quantum Torpedo launchers (four forward firing, two rear), could discharge her shield system like a weapon a-la the Macross Cannon, and in a pinch could fill her nose with torpedoes and launch it like a big ass missile. To add insult to injury, the Defiant was also the first and only Federation starship packing a Romulan Cloaking Device, rendering this little monster invisible, silent and deadly.
7) Prototype Klingon Bird of Prey, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The concept of a ship that can turn invisible is certainly frightening, and could potentially be a huge advantage in combat. This allegory for the Cold War (the enemy could be anywhere, perhaps right next to you!) was heavily used by both the Romulans and Klingons, giving them an extreme tactical advantage when dealing with the Federation. As much as you had the Neutral Zone to keep enemies apart, Starfleet could not truly know if they were safe. The one saving grace for our heroes was a simple design flaw in the cloaking device: It draws so much power that a cloaked ship CANNOT fire while cloaked. And the Federation slept soundly at night knowing that even if the boogeyman was there, at least he could not kill them without someone knowing it.
But what happens if you remove that comfort? Suddenly we find out in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In order to precipitate a war between the Federation and the Klingons (who at this point due to their poor ecological management, have one foot in the grave and one foot on some Torg intestines), a cast of conspirators including the members of the Federation, Klingon and Romulan governments, develop and deploy a Klingon Bird of Prey that has the ability to fire while cloaked. This is a complete game changer in the Star Trek universe, because a fair fight is a thing of the past now. In the climactic battle of Star Trek VI, this very special Bird of Prey (considered a light vessel, carrying a crew of 12-36, with armaments considered 1/10 as powerful as the Constellation Class USS Enterprise) is able to take on and heavily damage both the USS Enterprise and the USS Excelsior. It’s only due to the combined efforts of the two Federation starships, Captain Spock and Doctor McCoy that the Bird of Prey was destroyed. Thanks to the short sightedness of the conspiracy, they only built one. You would think they would have at least wrote down the plans on like a cocktail napkin or something, because even as far as a century later, the Star Trek universe does not have ships that fire while cloaked… or do they?
6) Krenim Time Ship, Star Trek: Voyager (“The Year of Hell”)
In her seven year journey across the Delta Quadrant, the starship Voyager managed to do one thing really, really well, and that was piss people off. In fact, more often than other Star Trek series did first contact situations end up with someone shooting at the Voyager. You would think that between Species 8472, the Kazon, the Borg, Hirogen or countless other hostiles encountered, someone would be able to successfully cap Voyager’s ass, but it was the Krenim that came the closest.
The Krenim apparently were rather adept at manipulating time and space, with their temporal scientist Clarence “Bitches Leave” Boddicker, and created a time weapon that literally pushes whatever it hits out of existence. That’s right, it’s essentially a mobile and pinpoint version of the Ren and Stimpy History Eraser. How could Red possibly resist the maddening urge to eradicate history at the mere push of a single button? The beautiful, shiny button? The jolly, candy-like button? Will he hold out, folks? Can he hold out? Of course he can’t hold out.
In a strange turn of events that the Doctor would have trouble following, apparently Voyager happened to be crossing through Krenim space while they were at war with another planet. When they fire their weapon, eradicating their enemies, history changes, and suddenly Voyager is trespassing smack dab in the middle of an empire that would make Palpatine wet himself. Of course the Krenim, now acting all Billy Bad-ass, decide that they don’t want Voyager to exist either, and start firing their wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey gun at them, starting what became known as the Year of Hell. Of course, temporal mechanics being what they are, eventually the Krenim time vessel removes itself from time, therefore removing all of the damage it did from time, and all is right with the world again, or as best as I understand it. Like I said, it was a confusing couple of episodes, and I watched it way too late to be able to grasp every single concept correctly.
5) Scimitar, Star Trek: Nemesis
Those pesky Romulans, always hell-bent on universal conquest. This time it’s a clone of Captain Picard that plans on taking care of business, luring Jean-Luc out to Romulan territory so that he can do some sciency-wiency thing to him in order to fix his cloned DNA issues. One of the tools of his trade is the Scimitar, a starship that dwarfs the Enterprise-E with ease.
The Scimitar was born and bred for war, armed with a whopping 52 disruptor banks and 27 photon torpedo tubes, over five times the normal armament for a battle-ready starship. She had what was considered a flawless cloaking device which gave off no emissions that could be used to track her. The only way to find her was to fire blindly until a weapon struck her shields. Speaking of shielding, she was also equipped with a second set of shields, making her almost impenetrable. She had an obviously impressive power generation system, as she was faster than the Enterprise-E, even while cloaked, and could decloak specific sections of the ship to fire specific weapons. As if that wasn’t enough, she was also a carrier, holding dozens of Scorpion Attack fighters.
But wait, there’s more! As if the Scimitar wasn’t powerful enough, she was also equipped with a Thalaron Radiation weapon, that once powered up and charged for seven minutes, could deploy against a planet and turn its inhabitants into dust. Two Romulan Warbirds and the Enterprise could barely put a dent in her, and it took the Enterprise literally crashing into her to do any significant damage.
4) V’Ger, Star Trek: The Motion Picture
In the opening moments of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, we are introduced to the confused entity eventually known as V’Ger. A space cloud of enormous proportions, it is first seen vaporizing a squadron of Klingon battle crusiers. Being the equal opportunity cloud of doom that it is, its next stop is the Epsilon 9 station, which it subsequently vaporizes as well, but not before the station warns the Federation that the cloud is on a collision course with Earth.
It’s not long before Kirk and crew come to the rescue and encounter the cloud head on. It’s there that they discover the true nature of the Cloud; it is actually V’Ger, the Voyager 6 space probe launched by NASA in the 20th century. It apparently crashed on some alien planet, and was repaired and modified by the inhabitance, who took its orders literally. Taking a page from the evil Lord Dredd, it learns as much as it can about the universe by digitizing it, and as Spock learns during his mind meld, V’Ger is quite good at what it does, having digitized whole star systems in search of its creator.
Even once the Enterprise crew is able to convince V’Ger that humans are its creator, V’Ger is still left wanting. In this case, V’Ger wants to join with a human, all freaky deeky style, something that jaded Commander Will Decker is more than willing to do. Their hot man on machine action stops V’Ger from making Earth into a Second Life simulation, but apparently its story is not over. Apparently in some of the early William Shatner Trek novels, they reveal that V’Ger is an early form of the Borg.
3) Borg Cube, Star Trek: The Next Generation
It’s pretty obvious when the Enterprise-D first encounters the Borg that she is extremely outmatched. And for good reason: that first perspective shot of both the Enterprise and the Cube in the same picture shows the Cube being easily 20 times larger than the Federation Flagship. After the Borg send a drone to the Enterprise, Picard and crew decide to run for cover, and attempt to escape the Cube. The Cube is able to secure a tractor beam around the ship, drains her shields, and proceeds to cut a section of the Enterprise away for study in seconds like she was a piece of fruit. It’s only by a stroke of luck and the interference of Q that the Enterprise manages to escape. But the true power of the Borg wasn’t revealed until the Battle of Wolf 359.
With Picard captured and Borg-ified, there is nothing standing in the way of the Borg reaching Earth except for 40 pesky Federation Starships forcing a conflict at Wolf 359. It’s here that a single Borg Cube obliterated the Federation fleet, leaving only one surviving vessel, and killing over 11,000 Starfleet personnel and families, including one Jennifer Sisko. The mostly intact Borg Cube had a straight, unimpeded shot to Earth until the Enterprise showed up and was able to get Robo-Picard to set the Cube to self-destruct.
As Borg encounters became more common, they seemed less and less frightening. A Starfleet flotilla was able to destroy a Borg Cube in Star Trek: First Contact, and Voyager encountered them a ton of times in the Delta Quadrant without receiving a whole lot of unnecessary surgery. Hell, even the Enterprise cast was able to survive encountering some Borg drones! Over time, the Borg seemed to become slightly emasculated, and certainly less frightening, but there still is nothing that gets a nerd’s mivonks in a twist like seeing the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359.
2) Doomsday Machine, Star Trek (“The Doomsday Machine”)
Easily the most iconic alien vessel in the original series, the Doomsday Machine led to one of the best episodes of Star Trek, period. The USS Constellation is investigating a number of solar systems that have been destroyed when they encounter a gigantic alien vessel, shaped like a gray Bugles snack chip.
The Constellation, figuring out that it is the Machine that is destroying these planets and stars, attacks it, and gets the shit kicked out of her. Commodore Matt Decker, unable to send a distress call and with life support failing, beams down his crew to a nearby planet, apparently thinking that the Machine has seen the error of its ways and is going to give up on the whole planet destruction thing. But of course the Machine proceeds to gobble up the planet, Constellation crew and all.
As large as the Machine is, it’s not big enough to just eat a planet in one bite, therefore it is equipped with an antiproton beam which cuts up planets into bite sized chunks. Interestingly, this antiproton beam, while highly effective on planets, is not able to fricassee a starship in one shot. Its pure neutronium hull prevents any of the Enterprise weapons from even scratching it; in fact, it takes ramming what is left of the Constellation down its throat and detonating its self-destruct to finally disable the Machine.
While the Doomsday Machine does not appear again in any Trek series, it does show up in the Next Generation novel “Vendetta” where it is revealed that the Doomsday Machine was a weapon created by the Preservers (an alien race mentioned in TOS episode “The Paradise Syndrome”) specifically for use in combating the Borg. Apparently everything from the original series has some connection to the Borg.
1) Narada, Star Trek (2009)
It’s a well known fact in the Star trek universe that the Romulans don’t do anything small. A perfect example of this is the D’deridex class Warbird seen throughout The Next Generation timeline, a ship that was double the length of the Enterprise D. But out of all of their vessels, it was the Narada that proved to be the most devastating.
Built in the late 24th century, the mining vessel Narada, under the command of Captain Nero, attempted to intercept Ambassador Spock, who was trying to prevent the spread of a supernova that had destroyed Romulus. Apparently not giving a shit about any other world but his own, Nero’s attempt on Spock’s life failed when the red matter black hole Spock created to stop the supernova also gobbled up the Narada, dropping it off 150 years in the past smack dab in the middle of Federation territory. While the Narada may not have been bred for combat in the 24th century, it could kick more ass than a blind Rockette in the early 23rd century, as George Kirk and the USS Kelvin quickly discovered. In fact, the Kelvin looked absolutely dwarfed when she encountered the Narada for the first and last time. But apparently the Kelvin was not her only victim, as Lieutenant Uhura intercepts a transmission later on in the film stating that a lone ship decimated 47 Klingon warbirds over the planet Rura Penthe, the Klingon prison planet. But it’s when the Narada arrives in Vulcan space that she really begins to shine.
Being a mining vessel of such a great size, it seems very likely that she could drill through a planet, as she begins to do with Vulcan. The Narada’s mining laser is able to quickly Swiss cheese the helpless planet, but wait, there’s more! Thanks to Spock’s red matter, Nero goes for that extra level of service, and creates a black hole in the center of Vulcan, forcing the planet to suck itself into oblivion. Yes the Narada can make black holes, Event Horizon-style, without the whole free trip to hell aspect. Without a doubt, the Narada is one mean mother-frakker (at least in the 23rd century).
A fan of video games and science fiction from the moment he discovered his father's Atari 2600 and Star Wars, Jason Helton has been contributing to The Robot's Voice since 2011. Prior, he wrote for the UK's Den of Geek and was the producer and host of Iron Otaku Radio on XM's UPOP 29 channel. A die-hard fan of Battlestar Galactica (both old and new), Doctor Who, and pinball, you can follow him on Twitter @Razgriz1138.