41

The stealth mode of starships plays a huge role in many Star Trek films and episodes and is a strong advantage in combat. I remember an episode revealing that the Federation developed a secret stealth technology (afair on Riker's former ship with another captain appearing in this episode) that even made it possible to fly with the ship through matter.

Nonetheless, while stealth technology seems standard for Romulans, Klingons (Ferengi, Vulcans?) and does not break any intergalactic laws (do these exist at all?), the Federation doesn't use it?

53

The Federation signed a treaty with the Romulans specifically forbidding the Federation and Starfleet (probably all life forms that are members of the UFP) to even research cloaking technology. They don't use it, because it keeps the peace truce with Romulus.

From Memory Alpha:

In 2311, with the signing of the Treaty of Algeron, the Federation explicitly agreed not to develop cloaking technology. The Bajoran Provisional Government also outlawed cloaking devices, stating that the possession of such a device is highly illegal. (TNG: "The Pegasus"; DS9: "Profit and Loss")

(emphasis mine)


Edit: I can only speculate about the out-of-universe reasons the writers have not to allow the Federation a cloaking device (maybe TangoOversway can provide better semi-official insight) but I suppose it's too easy to become a negative deus-ex-machina, ruining most plots. Or to put it differently, make it too hard to write good scripts. Additionally, it would be hindering Starfleet's original mission to explore strange new worlds and civilisations. They want to explore, not to hide.

  • 1
    I remember an episode which reveals that the Federation had in fact secretly developed it's own cloaking tech. It was accomplished by phasing & there was a ship stuck in the middle of an asteroid. Can't find the name of the ep now though. – TC1 Oct 23 '12 at 21:03
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    @TC1: It's "The Pegasus" (as noted in my question). Wait, let me add a link. ... memory-alpha seems to be down, so I will add the link as soon as it's back. – bitmask Oct 23 '12 at 21:05
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    @Downvoter: Would you kindly enlighten us, why this is a bad answer? – bitmask Dec 8 '12 at 22:17
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    Wasn't there also an episode in TNG where the Federation was observing a pre-warp society but cloaking their hidden observation outpost? At least when the generators failed and the outpost became visible, it looked like a cloak. – RoboKaren Feb 5 '15 at 14:49
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    Yes, they were observing Proto-Vulcans with what LaForge referred to as a duck-blind. It was in "Who Watches the Watchers" (it's my second favourite TNG episode). However, it stands to reason, that covering a static hideout in a rockface to the naked eye is substantially easier than covering a complicated spaceship including all its emissions, in all bands. The Proto-Vulcans had no sophisticated technology to detect radiation and were not actively looking for the researchers. – bitmask Feb 5 '15 at 18:55
28

The Treaty of Algeron prevents the Federation from developing cloaking technology.

  • 1
    This becomes a semi-major plot point in DS9 for a short while, too – Izkata Mar 26 '12 at 2:52
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    Despite the treaty, a late TNG episode shows that the federation did develop a kind of cloaking device.en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Pegasus_%28episode%29 – SteveED Mar 26 '12 at 2:58
  • @SteveED And in a speculative future episode, the Enterprise itself has cloaking technology (though this 'speculative' future is more probable, since it was Q's meddling that brought it on) en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/All_Good_Things..._(episode) – Zibbobz Dec 30 '14 at 15:28
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    @Zibbobz In that alternate future the Klingons had conquered the Romulan Empire and as such the Treaty of Algeron was no longer in effect. – Xantec Sep 2 '15 at 21:36
8

In the episode All Good Things the Enterprise (of the future) has cloaking abilities.

  • 9
    This was, of course, due to the Klingons conquering the Rolumans. Thus the treaty was moot at that point. – Xantec Mar 26 '12 at 17:47
7

Kirk's Enterprise did use a (stolen) cloak briefly in The Enterprise Incident.

6

The USS Enterprise has never had cloaking technologies that I know of.

The USS Defiant however, was granted use of a Romulan cloaking device during the early stages of the Dominion War to seek out the Founders and it remained on board the ship for the entire duration of the series until the USS Defiant(NX-74205) was destroyed. I don't remember if the USS Sao Paulo (renamed to USS Defiant - NCC-75633) was fitted with a new device though.

After the Dominion threat emerged in late-2370, a special amendment made to the Treaty of Algeron allowed the Defiant to be equipped with a Romulan cloaking device. In exchange for providing the cloaking device, the Federation agreed to share all of its Dominion intelligence with the Romulan government. Additionally, the cloak was only authorized for use in the Gamma Quadrant; although Captain Sisko violated this provision on numerous occasions. Use of the cloaking device was initially supervised by Subcommander T'Rul, although the Romulans later discontinued supervision.

-2

Here is a link to Picard's enterprise using a cloak.

  • 7
    This clip is relevant, but it offers no context or explanation to actually answer the question. – Nerrolken Sep 2 '15 at 20:13

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