General Order 24 of Starfleet is an order to destroy all life on a planet by orbital bombardment (as mentioned here and here). To quote the order:

If a commanding officer deems that a planet has been culturally contaminated to a point where correction is no longer viable and said culture now poses a direct threat to Starfleet personnel or Federation civilians, he may order the destruction of a planet’s surface to occur within a time limit set upon invocation.

In short, if the Starfleet captain feels so, he could as well order to destroy an entire civilisation.

Is there any ship in the Enterprise capable of executing such a feat single-handedly? If yes, is there some sort of weaponry aboard this ship (similar to the Death Star in Star Wars) that can eliminate all life on the planet?

  • The Star Trek Discovery novel "Desperate Hours" which is maybe probably almost quite certainly canon shows a planet at risk of this order being executed by Captain Pike using photon torpedos which are described as having an effect on the planet equivalent to a supermassive planet-wide nuclear detonation that would wipe out all life. – NKCampbell Dec 7 '17 at 22:01
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    The Death Star doesn't destroy just the surface, but the whole planet. – Acccumulation Dec 7 '17 at 22:48
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    We see the Enterprise-D use it's phasers as a drill on multiple occasions. Including opening up Magma pockets on a class M planet. They certainly have the firepower to do enough damage to permanently alter the crust of a planet, it's just a matter of time and energy. – ench Dec 7 '17 at 23:17
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    We hear in "The Die is Cast" that a fleet of 20 Cardassian and Romulan warships can destroy 30% of a (roughly Earth gravity/mass) planet's surface in a single volley. The Warbirds in said fleet are usually portrayed as an even match for a Galaxy class. As far as we can infer, most ships would have the ability to seriously damage a planets crust if they wanted to. – ench Dec 7 '17 at 23:28
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    Memory Alpha is wrong about one thing. There is no mention in TOS about cultural contamination as justification for for carrying out General Order 24, nor any other specification of circumstances justifying using General Order 24. – M. A. Golding Dec 8 '17 at 3:02

Yes, the USS Defiant shows that any Starfleet ship would be able to do so in Deep Space 9: For the Uniform

From the memory alpha synopsis:

Sisko then proceeds with the same strategy the Maquis had been using, he prepares to launch biogenic weapons comprised of trilithium resin at a Maquis settlement. A reversal of Eddington's weapon, the resin bomb would poison the atmosphere with a toxin that is deadly to Humans, but harmless to Cardassians. Sisko broadcasts a message revealing his intentions, but Eddington dismisses it as a Federation bluff. Sisko then orders the weapons fired, and Worf initially hesitates as he and the rest of the bridge crew are shocked that Sisko is following through with his threat. Sisko repeats his order, and Worf launches the weapons which do their job and poison the atmosphere, with Maquis transports scrambling to evacuate the settlement. Sisko announces that he plans to continue his campaign against all of the Maquis colonies in the DMZ, telling Eddington that when he attacked the Malinche the Maquis proved themselves to be an unacceptable threat to the Federation. Eddington offers to turn over the Maquis' stocks of biogenic weapons, but Sisko tells him that isn't enough. This leads Eddington to turn himself in to prevent further attacks, thus fulfilling the self-sacrificial part of his hero fantasy.

Since nearly any ship in Star Fleet is equiped with a lab, and possessing of torpedoes, they can create a similar biogenic weapon tailored to the species in question they wish to destroy.

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    I'm not sure this example quite fits the askers criteria. This doesn't destroy the planets surface, merely renders it uninhabitable for specific types of life. – ench Dec 7 '17 at 22:18
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    and it wasn't under the auspices of Order 24, but rather a personal grudge match. If Order 24 applied, it was only after the fact to allow Sisko to not end up in a brig for the rest of his life. – NKCampbell Dec 7 '17 at 22:23
  • @ench I am sure that individual captains would be given some leeway in how they would execute the order. And making a biogenic weapon that say kills all carbon based life, or one that strips all cell membranes away by disintegrating the phospholipid bilayer would be acceptable to Star Fleet. Yes, the crust of the surface is intact, but all life is gone, and that seems more in the spirit of the order. – Daishozen Dec 7 '17 at 22:23
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    @NKCampbell Yeah, Sisko went off the rails on that one, I was just using it as an example for them destroying all life sustaining properties of the planet for a specific life form type. – Daishozen Dec 7 '17 at 22:24

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