In Star Trek (2009), why was Nero's drill dropped into the water right outside Starfleet Academy?

It just seems a little convenient.

Is it canonically confirmed anywhere that Nero chose the location purposefully?

  • 4
    (My question should not be construed as approval of the new films / timeline in any way. I prefer my original timeline Trek. I am simply curious, nonetheless.)
    – Praxis
    Jan 18, 2015 at 5:44
  • 5
    The correct answer is bad writing. Jan 18, 2015 at 6:38
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    That was where the lens flare was thinnest.
    – Valorum
    Jan 18, 2015 at 12:44
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    Nero's entire agenda was built around revenge, and going well out of his way to do so... making Spock watch the destruction of Vulcan as payment for the destruction of his own home world. In that context, makes perfect sense that he would eagerly compromise on the practicality/efficiency of location just to drop impending disaster right on the doorstep of his chosen foe (Starfleet). Oh, and let's not forget... Nero was a tad bonkers.
    – Anthony X
    Jan 18, 2015 at 16:54
  • @AnthonyX: Well, if that's the case, then why settle for the water? Why not bring it right up to the Academy? As Richard's answer confirms, "any point on the Earth's surface" would do. So why not right on top of Starfleet? Don't say "because he's bonkers" or "because the drill is only so accurate". ;-) I'm with James and Richard on this one. :-)
    – Praxis
    Jan 18, 2015 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


According to the film's official novelisation, the Romulans specifically targeted Starfleet HQ based on the information they extracted from Pike.

Although there was a cost in terms of operational efficiency (it'll take marginally longer to reach the Earth's core), I think we can assume that damaging Starfleet HQ makes it less likely that the automated defenses could be reactivated. Also, Nero seems almost childishly impressed with how gosh.darned.ironic he's being:

The torrent of tightly contained tornadic plasma that roared forth from the mouth of the Romulan drill platform was directed with precision. As at Vulcan, it could have been aimed at any point on the Earth’s surface. The most practical place for deployment and the one that would have produced the quickest result was the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. There the plasma would have hissed its way through kilometers of water in mere seconds to strike the planetary crust at one of its thinnest points.

But the individual behind the drill and the eventual obliteration of the planet it was piercing was not in a hurry. It would all be over soon enough, this second induced armageddon, and he wanted to remember it in all its annihilating glory. There was no rush.

Earth’s multiple automated defensive stations had been electronically disabled, thanks to the codes extracted from the admirably stubborn but eventually responsive prisoner Pike. The captured captain had resisted the interrogation manfully, but he was only composed of flesh and blood. He was not even aware that he had surrendered the information necessary to allow the Narada to safely assume its unassailable geosynchronous position above the west coast of North America.


Reports from the drill’s sensors indicated that the city itself sat atop a major but now stabilized earthquake fault. Doubly ironic, then, that it should be the site for the insertion of the Red Matter that would initiate the reaction that would destroy the planet. Ironic, and also fitting. The commander of the Narada was pleased.

  • Thanks for finding a canonical answer. Still, all highly convenient. I don't envy the job of A.D. Foster (the novel's author).
    – Praxis
    Jan 18, 2015 at 14:53
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    @Praxis - He's made something of a career out of turning crap films into halfway decent novels.
    – Valorum
    Jan 18, 2015 at 14:53
  • I seem to recall he also wrote the screenplay for The Motion Picture. The real question is: was he able to turn that into a halfway decent novel? ;-)
    – Praxis
    Jan 25, 2015 at 8:29

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