In Episode 1x19, a couple Ferengi manage to stun (almost) the entire crew of the Enterprise NX-01 and board it wearing gas masks to steal valuables:

Ferengi with gas masks boarding the Enterprise NX-01

We see the four Ferengi dock with a pretty pathetic little ship and loot all decks basically grabbing everything they consider remotely of value (including chairs!), plus a couple of crew members -- apparently to sell as slaves.

At any rate, why don't they just take the entire ship? They're probably not ruthless enough to just kill everybody; But they could search the ship for all crew members (I think they have technology that is sophisticated enough to detect life signs, right?) put them in escape capsules / shuttle pods / whatever, and then just steal the whole ship, including all its valuables. The ship itself is probably worth more than any of those Ferengi could heist in their lifetime. Additionally, they'd have all the time they need to find that elusive vault.

4 Answers 4


There's a simpler reason, as well: The NX-01 is an alien ship, with unfamiliar controls, from a species they've never seen before. Universal Translators work well for spoken language, but not so much the written language - especially the Ferengi ones, which are implanted in their ear.

To use a parallel, how long do you think it would take you to figure out how to use this console without blowing up the ship, given you know nothing of their language or culture (so you can't assume red is danger, for example)?

enter image description here

And that's something that sort-of familiar to us, since we've seen Klingon ships and the Klingon language on and off throughout most of the series. Now, how different would a computer console based off of the Ferengi language be? This image isn't even a computer console, it's the Ferengi written language:

enter image description here

  • 2
    That's a very good point, from the hard scifi point of view. I'm wondering if it does apply in Star Trek; They always seem to be able to grasp theses things insanely fast. They help cultures they have never met repair their warp cores. If everything fails, they could force the crew members that they want to capture anyway to work the controls.
    – bitmask
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 23:36
  • @bitmask Warp cores work off of the same general principles, since the laws of physics are generally the same throughout the galaxy, and engineering displays seem to use more diagrams than other displays (far left and cut-off far right screens, for example), so that's kind of explainable.
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 0:31
  • @bitmask As for the other point, without knowledge of the ship's systems, they don't really know if their prisoners are following orders or not - which I think was partially shown in DS9 6x14, One Little Ship
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 0:34
  • I've never noticed how similar Ferengi is to Kryptonian interfaces & glyphs. Not in detail, but certainly in general.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 20:36

The NX-01 required a crew of nearly a 100 to operate and maintain on a day to day basis. A crew of 4 Ferengi probably would not be able to operate and maintain a ship that large long enough to get it to a destination where they could sell it. Add to that they would have to deal with the crew on a long term basis, unless they were to eliminate them completely. It's a matter of logistics, really.

We know that ships in the future could be automated enough for longer term operation by a small team, but the NX-01 was essentially an experimental prototype and it is unlikely that such a high level of automation was possible. So again, a crew of 4 Ferengi would be unlikely to be capable of operating it on their own.

Like most petty thieves, they go for the quick grab. A major score is beyond their capability.

  • Why not steal the ship, drive it away from the abandoned crew a couple lightyears, and take the time to strip it clean?
    – bitmask
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 20:25
  • 3
    @bitmask - Dammit Jim! they are thugs not starship pilots...
    – Chad
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 12:53
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    Also add that to the Ferengi, the NX-01 wasn't all that advanced, it probably wasn't worth all that much to them.
    – ewanm89
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 13:44

Not accounting stealing chairs (but then again that's part of the Ferengi's general goofiness), the overall NX-01 would probably have been of very much lower technology than theirs. Ferengi Alliance space is supposed to be far from Earth, meaning they could travel much father and much easier than this... hu-mon ship.


Quite apart from everything else, where would you fence it? Random pieces of alien "art" (whether the aliens who made it think it's art is irrelevant!), personal equipment, and the like you can easily pass off as beneath notice, but if the humans' new NX starship goes missing, and you turn up behind the wheel of a new NX starship, you're gonna have a hard time passing that off as a legitimate purchase.

(Even if you assume the humans couldn't force you to give it back - which might be accurate at this point - other spacefaring nations probably look askance at that sort of blatant theft. It doesn't do to encourage that kind of behavior, after all - you might be next on the list.)

  • At that time, the alpha quadrant is wild enough for this to work. I don't think the Ferengi really have a problem stripping everything from the ship and sellig it independently. And they have more time to do so if they steal the whole ship.
    – bitmask
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 20:45

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