In Star Trek VI we have the attack on Gorkon's ship

We know this came from

the prototype Bird of Prey

but nobody knows that yet. Once Gorkon's ship turned and prepared to fire, Kirk surrenders and then beams aboard with McCoy. He's obviously trying to salvage the diplomatic overture, but why not keep the shields up and figure out who betrayed them? Even knowing Spock's little ace-in-the-hole tracking device, why do this? Seems like an unnecessary risk.

2 Answers 2


Kirk is not surrendering to give control of the ship over the Klingons, or allow boarding parties, or anything like that. He's surrendering to cease hostilities during a tense diplomatic mission. The Klingons and Federation likely have rules of engagement saying that if a vessel surrenders, then you should not fire upon it.

The movie segment you linked to does not show the actual surrender, so I can't confirm if his shields were down or up at the time. (I also checked YouTube for other videos showing the actual surrender scene.) I would bet Kirk kept the shields up during and after surrender. No need to risk his ship by lowering shields! (Except for lowering them during transporter use.)

  • 4
    Shields were down (couldn't find a clip of the next scene). Checkov keeps asking Kirk if he wants to raise them and Kirk finally orders a surrender, while Checkov notes they're basically dead if the Klingons fire
    – Machavity
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 4:21
  • 2
    I don't think it's ever been clearly stated exactly how long it takes to raise the shields from a standby state, but it's certainly not instantaneous. Trying to raise your shields while your enemies have their finger on the fire button and you're trying to surrender to them would be...a bad idea.
    – Werrf
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 15:56

The Enterprise could try to escape but that would only make them look more guilty and the Klingons would return home thinking it was all a Federtation trap to assassinate the chancelor.

By surrendering and going to the Klingon ship without an escort he is trying to convince the Klingons that it wasn't a Federation trap and that the Federation does not want a war. He wants there to be an investigation and let the Klingons know that he will do everything to cooperate.

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