In Star Trek the Wrath of Khan, it is revealed that all starships have a prefix number, allowing other ships to order a starfleet vessel to lower its shields. This was created in case a vessel is captured by an enemy.

By the 24th century and beyond, is there any evidence that starfleet vessels still have prefix numbers?

I would think they would be a huge risk vs the borg, and off the top of my head I can remember the episode Message in a Bottle in which the Romulans steal a new federation ship. While trying to retake the ship the other starfleet vessels do not use the prefix number.

1 Answer 1


They do. In the TNG episode "The Wounded" (S04E12), Picard reveals the prefix code of the USS Phoenix to the Cardassians, allowing them to disable her shields remotely in the hope to stop her attacks on Cardassian ships.

  • The season 2 episode Unnatural Selection also makes use of them, although they're not specifically called "prefix codes".
    – Xantec
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 1:23
  • 13
    Does the code have more than five digits this time? When I see the Wrath of Khan, I'm always amused by the possibility of hacking a federation starship with a code that is less secure than my stack exchange account! Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 7:31
  • 4
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5? That's amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!
    – Katie Epps
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 11:20
  • Almost as if you made your nuclear launch code 00000000.... arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/12/…
    – Servitor
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 14:01
  • What's really interesting about the example you give is that the Phoenix was still under the control of its captain. So what would stop any other 2 fighting starfleet vessels from lowering each others shields if even the captain can't prevent it? For example when the Defiant fought the Lakota, or when Voyager fought the Equinox.
    – Servitor
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 14:05

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