Below is my understanding of the Kobayashi Maru test, which is supposed to illustrate a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

The KM is stranded in a Neutral Zone and will soon lose life support capabilities. If you enter the Neutral Zone to save the crew, you will precipitate war with the Klingons; if you stay put to avoid war, you will be responsible for the death of the KM crew.

There are two things that have always irked me about this scenario. First, the KM is already in the neutral zone, and that hasn't caused the Klingons to go "This means war!" yet. Why exactly would my attempt to rescue the crew cause them to attack? Are relations between Klingons and Starfleet so deteriorated that even a rescue mission is beyond question?

Second, does my ship really need to physically enter the Neutral Zone? Presumably, my ship is equipped with a nice set of working transporters that can beam the KM up from a safe distance. Are my transported declared out of commission for the purposes of this exercise?

  • 3
    I'd assume the neutral zone is too large to simply beam into/across with the transporter tech they had at the time, otherwise it would be kind of useless as a buffer.
    – Ixrec
    Mar 10, 2016 at 10:02
  • 3
    The Kobayashi Maru isn't always against the Klingons. In later years it was against the Romulans and Cardassians. The whole point is that it's against a hostile alien species.
    – Valorum
    Mar 10, 2016 at 14:27
  • And what about sending a boat? Federation flagships doesn't have auxiliary vessels? One of those should allow for a crew rescue mission and shouldn't supose an aggression on territorial laws as it's unarmed or lightly armed
    – Bardo
    Jun 17, 2016 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


My understanding of the situation is as follows:

1 - The KM is a civilian vessel, not a Starfleet warship, hence why it's entering of the neutral zone was not considered a potential act of war. Much like the fact that we can travel to other countries but sending over a gunship filled with heavily armed marines is usually frowned upon.

2 - At this time, yes the relations with the Klingons were that bad. There were numerous excursions and incidents happening along the borders on a regular basis and the Klingons are a race of warriors who are not going to look fondly on a powerful Starfleet vessel wandering into the neutral zone under what they would argue was a ruse. This is also why over the years the attacking vessals have changed between Klingon, Romulan and Cardassian depending on the political scene of the time.

3 - The KM was, as far as I am aware but I am afraid that I cannot recall where I got this from so please someone point out to me if I am incorrect, deep into the neutral zone when it hit the Klingon mine that had damaged it, hence why it is regarded as being impossible to transport them out - transports do have a range limit.

4 - (CONJECTURE WARNING) The Klingons would probably be willing to accept a civilian vessel going to rescue the KM, though this would be at the discretion of the Klingons who turned up and in the case of the test this would probably not be an option even if the simulation didn't allow for any vessels to be within a range to save the KM before the deaths of everyone on board. Because otherwise it would not be an impossible test.

Outside of this there are also the two tales of Nog beating (to a certain definition of the term) the test without cheating. One cost him his life but did have the potential to save the KM, the other actually just broke the simulation when he tried to barter for the lives of everyone with the (Romulan) attack ships.

I hope this sheds light on the situation for you

  • 5
    "we can travel to other countries but sending over a gunship filled with heavily armed marines is usually frowned upon." giggle Mar 10, 2016 at 11:13

I have wondered this question long time ago and my answer was proven a no.

From a tactical perspective, the chances of winning vs. those ships are very very low but not impossible. Not quite like picking a 1v3 fight with 3 random guys on the street, but close enough.

What I did is use the old game Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3 to recreate part of the simulation, specially the fighting part. So in respect to the known armaments and hulls of the ships involved I have approximated all relevant elements needed to recreate the simulation.

I have initially failed to win vs the enemy ships, but after a few attempts when using absolutely all possible tricks, tactics, maneuvers and other means at my disposal I have managed to fairly win against the attacking ships.

Note that the AI was not set on the most advanced difficulty level, but then the Klingons were more like attack & punish rather than tactics types.

So basically, my simulation managed to prove that the KM is not unwinnable given an extremely skilled captain is involved, but the change of winning would be too small to ever be attempted.

I still have SFC3, so I can re-create and post a simulation of you want, but it will take me a lot of attempts to actually win it.

  • By the time you destroyed the Klingons, would the crew of the KM still be alive?
    – GridAlien
    Mar 13, 2020 at 17:41
  • The SFC simulation cannot take into account crew, but generally, the alive-proportion of crew can be considered directly proportional to the hull integrity of the ship.
    – Overmind
    Mar 16, 2020 at 8:18

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