In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Emissary” (S02E20), the plot revolves around the following:

“In this episode, the Enterprise is sent a half-Klingon, half-human emissary to help them deal with a three-quarter century-old Klingon sleeper-ship who believes they are still at war with the Federation.”

Okay, there is some kind of Klingon ship that has somehow been floating out there for about 75 years.

Well, here’s the 800 pound mughato' in the room: Why?

Why the heck was there a Klingon sleeper ship (the T'Ong) just floating around out there? Why did K’Ehleyr and Worf have to deal with a sleeper ship to begin with?

Why did K’Ehleyr and Worf have to deal with a sleeper ship to begin with?

  • 1
    I'd speculate it was merely long range flag planting. Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


We don't know and, apparently, no-one does not even K'Ehleyr.

As it says in a discussion between Worf and K'Ehleyr:

WORF: According to the library computer, the captain of the T'Ong is K'Temoc. But there is nothing regarding the ship's mission.

K'EHLEYR: Probably some secret military objective.

WORF: Perhaps, but we have no evidence of that.

K'EHLEYR: Why else would there be no record of the mission?

WORF: The records may simply have been lost.

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    You could look at it as story 'A' about the "sleeper ship" and story 'B' about the Worf/K'Ehleyr relationship, in which case the sleeper ship's unspecified mission is something of a plot hole. Or, you could look at it as a single story building out Worf's relationship with K'Ehleyr (leading to the later introduction of Alexander) with the sleeper ship as mere MacGuffin to bring them back together. If the sleeper ship is just a MacGuffin, there's no need to explain its mission because it isn't focus of the story. After all, the episode title is "The Emissary" - referring to K'Ehleyr.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 17:54
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    @Giacomo1968 The T'Ong was clearly on some sort of covert military mission. On the other hand, the group encountered by Voyager was apparently on some sort of religious quest - very different. The only commonality I see is an aspect of patience and view toward a long-term objective (regardless of what that objective might be). The ship in the Voyager story seems to be another MacGuffin to delve into Torres' half-human-half-Klingon psyche.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 3 at 17:07

12 minutes into the episode, K’Ehleyr explains to the Enterprise senior staff in the briefing room that Starbase 336 received an automated message from the T'Ong

The message was directed to the Klingon High Command. It said only that that the ship was returning home and that it was about to reach its "awakening point".

At around 39 minutes into the episode, the captain of the Klingon ship, K'Temoc, says

"You dare not destroy us, we are on a crucial mission for the Klingon High Command!".

These lines are a bit vague, but they are all that is needed to make the story work.

The script is slightly different than the actual episode; in the second line the tenses are different:

enter image description here

In the script the Klingons state, “We have been…” but in the filmed episode they say, “…we are on…”


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