I have just watched "The Way of the Warrior" (first episode of 4th season of Deep Space Nine) and I found one of orders, Sisko gave to Worf, at least weird.

On board "The Defiant", Sisko orders Worf:

Mister Worf, keep an eye out for Klingon ships cloaked or otherwise.

How could Worf achieve this? How can one detect a cloaked ship? If that would be possible, what use or value would there be out of using cloaking devices at all?

I recall some very, very initial attempts to detect a cloaked ship in one of early episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation. But, that was really inital, without good scientific base and it was actually based on a lot o luck. Yet, I'm getting the feeling, that in this episode Sisko orders Worf doing this, like it was something as natural as using transporter device or replicator.

Can anyone explain this to me? Is there anything, that I'm missing? Because, for me, this is a clear mistake in a script.

1 Answer 1


There are a considerable number of ways in which a cloaked vessel (during the time of DS9) could be detected, regardless of whether the ship was at rest or traveling at warp speed. The general principle is that the faster a cloaked ship travels and the worse the condition of its engines, the easier the ship will be to find.

Subspace distortion waves

O'BRIEN: I'm picking up a huge distortion wave in subspace. The Klingon ships are going to warp.

KIRA: Can you plot their course?

O'BRIEN: Judging from the vector of the subspace disturbance... I'd say their heading is two-six-nine mark zero-three-two.

DS9: The Way of the Warrior

Subspace Variances

SISKO: Explain.

T'RUL: A cloaked ship radiates a slight subspace variance at warp speeds.

O'BRIEN: I've never heard of that.

T'RUL: It's not something we've been eager to reveal. I suggest dropping out of warp. That will eliminate the variance. When they reach our position they'll find nothing.

DS9: The Search, Part 1

Sensor Echoes

WESLEY: Commander Data, I'm picking up an unusual echo from my navigational sensors.

WORF: There is something there, sir, tracking us -- matching our speed and heading. Something which doesn't fully register on our instruments.

DATA: Since there is no known natural phenomenon capable of travel at warp velocities, there are but two possibilities: either it is a sensor malfunction, or it is another ship, following us covertly.

TNG: Tin Man

Tetryon Particles / EM Spikes / Quantum fractures in the electrodynamic field / Subspace energy fluctuations

(Notably, this may be a result of the fact that the cloaks were hastily retrofitted into Cardassian ships)

SISKO: About ten minutes ago, our sensors picked up high concentrations of tetryon particles moving toward the station.

DAX: I've never seen readings like this before. What do you think?

O'BRIEN: Subspace energy fluctuations ... quantum fractures in the electrodynamic field... EM spikes across the spectrum... you've got me.

DS9: The Die is Cast

  • 3
    It's worth noting that the Dominion (in a later episode) demonstrate the ability to use "long-range tachyon scanners" to detect cloaked vessels, suggesting that cloaked ships may also emit tachyons.
    – Valorum
    Dec 19, 2015 at 14:28
  • Perfect answer, as always! :>
    – trejder
    Dec 20, 2015 at 12:11
  • 1
    Also worth noting that Starfleet set up a tachyon grid along the Romulan neutral zone after the events of the TNG episode "Redemption" (Klingon civil war). Also, Spock and McCoy modified a torpedo in ST VI to detect a cloaked Klingon bird of prey. Dec 21, 2015 at 6:06
  • @BrandonDybala - Indeed, albeit neither of those seem to be viable options while the Defiant is at warp speed.
    – Valorum
    Dec 21, 2015 at 6:20

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