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TNG 1x09 The Battle introduces the Battle of Maxia in which Capt. Picard is forced to destroy a then-unknown Ferengi vessel using the so called Picard maneuver. The USS Stargazer was supposedly damaged badly that Picard and his crew were forced to abandon it.

However it turns out that the Ferengi DaiMon Bok comes into possession of the ship and makes it into part of his revenge on Picard. In the upcoming fight the crew of the Enterprise states that the Stargazer is not only spaceworthy but also fully armed (save six torpedos that have been used in the Battle of Maxia). It would seem to be a great risk to have an armory of advanced weaponry flying around without control. What if the Pakled happen to find the ship?

So the question is why would Picard not destroy the ship when abandoning it (Star Trek captains like to blow up their ships) or - if self destruct was not possible for whatever reason - why not send a mission to salvage it after being rescued?

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Main Canon

The quote from the episode script was

PICARD: A "save our skins" maneuver. The Stargazer was on fire, finished. We had to abandon ship, and limp through space in shuttlecraft for weeks before being picked up. (beat) I haven't thought about it in years...

But yes, you're right. Once the onboard fires were extinguished, the ship seems to have been in pretty workable condition. As to why it wasn't salvaged (by the Federation), the Ferengi presumably managed to get a team there faster to tow it away. The assumption was that it had exploded/crashed.


EU Canon

The Star Trek EU novel "The Buried Age" discusses the Battle of Maxia (and Picard's subsequent court martial for the loss of his vessel) in great detail.

The ship was mortally wounded, on fire and possibly leaking radiation. Picard left it in a decaying orbit around a local gas giant, in the expectation that it would burn up in the atmosphere.

Simenon made an unhappy noise in his throat. “As I feared, Captain. The purge is incomplete. Some of the hatches didn’t respond-we still have fires burning in much of the engineering section and physics labs.”

A thought struck Picard. “Can you shut down ship’s gravity? Without convection, the fires would smother in their own smoke.”

The Gnalish shook his gray-scaled head. “I no longer have control of those systems.” It was the paradox of Starfleet gravity generators: under power, their superconducting stators could be braked within moments, allowing near-instant gravity shutdown, but in the event of power loss the stators would continue spinning on sheer momentum for up to four hours. It was a safeguard against power loss, but right now it was working against the ship’s survival.

“Oh, no,” Simenon said. “I’ve read an explosion in nuclear physics. Atmosphere venting from those compartments…I’m detecting radiation spreading outward. Looks like…a canister of plutonium must have ruptured. No fission, but the plutonium dust is spreading through half the ship.” He shook his head. “We don’t have the equipment to decontaminate it.”

Picard stared at his dying ship. “Then we can never go back.”

After the crew had absorbed that for a time, Ben Zoma asked, “What if there are more enemy ships coming? Ships that do have decon equipment? Do we just leave her for them?”

“We never made a stable orbit,” Asmund answered. “She’ll spiral down into the Jovian’s atmosphere within a week, two at most.”

“Can we make sure she self-destructs?” Picard asked Simenon.

“The engine controls are unresponsive. And these shuttles don’t have the armaments to take her out. The only way would be to remove one of the shuttles’ micro-warp cores and make it into a bomb.”

and

Afterwards, Phillipa changed her tack, concentrating on the third charge, Picard’s alleged failure to ensure that the ship was scuttled. She called Simenon to the stand, and the engineer testified to everything Picard had attempted, first to save his ship, then to ensure its destruction once abandonment became inevitable. He explained why they could not have risked returning to the ship or sparing a shuttle warp core to destroy it, and stated that its descent into the Jovian’s atmosphere was certain in any case. “And long-range scans saw no sign of hostile ships in the time it would’ve taken the Stargazer’s orbit to decay.”

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    Protocol clearly calls for the self-destruct sequence to have been initiated. Writers. Pfft. – Praxis Aug 9 '16 at 21:31
  • Sure, one can also second guess why Picard decided to abandon ship in the first place, did not look the bad when they got it back some nine years later. However, even not judging this decision and assuming the really had to leave ship I wonder why take the risk and not self-destruct it. – Ghanima Aug 9 '16 at 21:31

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