In Star Trek Into Darkness, the Vengeance was able to catch up to the Enterprise and attack it while in warp.

According to the answer here, warp is a bubble around a specific ship. This would explain why Kirk was so surprised when it happened.

How was the Vengeance able to catch up, or get into the Enterprise’s warp bubble?

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    If it were like you say, then ships would never have to worry about attacks. Just go to warp and you are safe. Obviously all kinds of precedent shows this is not the case. Jan 21, 2015 at 23:22
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    They followed the trail of lens flare.
    – Valorum
    Jan 21, 2015 at 23:32
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    Why would the Vengeance need to get into the Enterprise's warp bubble? As long as they were both traveling at the same warp speed and were near each other, they should be able to see each other at warp speed even if in their own separate warp bubbles, since you can still see the outside universe from inside a warp bubble, it's not like a parallel dimension. As far as how it was able to catch up, maybe it just had engines capable of a higher maximum warp factor?
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 21, 2015 at 23:37
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    you can merge into another ships warp bubble, this was seen in one of the last episode of enterprise, they expanded their warp bubbles so the 2 ships shared the same bubble, and then they literally left the ship and crossed through space on a ladder or rope, and got onto the other ship. while moving at warp.
    – Himarm
    Jan 22, 2015 at 1:43
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    It has been shown, on multiple occasions, that two ships travelling at warp speed can fire upon and otherwise engage each other, notably in "Arena" and "The Corbomite Manoeuvre." The concept of a mysterious "warp bubble" was a meaningless and unnecessary addition such as the need for a big drill to drop red matter in Abrams' first film. Jan 22, 2015 at 5:20

3 Answers 3


The Enterprise had a slight head start, but the Vengeance was able to catch up to it because the Vengeance was travelling at a faster speed. Plain and simple.

Your point about the warp bubbles of the two ships is irrelevant. As @Hypnosifl and @JamesSheridan mentioned in their comments below your question, there are many instances in Star Trek (across the series, across the films) where it is clearly shown that (a) a ship travelling at warp can see the immediate universe outside the bubble, and (b) that ships can exchange fire while at warp. (Think about the desperate attempt to flee the Borg at the end of "Q Who".) It might be interesting to compile all such instances...but perhaps only mildly so.

Star Trek may occur in a technologically-advanced future, but this particular topic is less to do with warp field mechanics and more to do with Newtonian kinematics (or even earlier, Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare" --- not directly analogous to the Vengeance / Enterprise chase for obvious reasons, but lessons to be learned about speed and winning a race, nevertheless).


If anybody was thinking why the vengeance was faster, it was because Khan had used technologies inside the ship to allow it to go to warp 10 and phasers that could fire at warp speed.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you have any sources to support this? Quotes? Good answers should have supporting evidence, not just a few statements; please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Jan 3, 2020 at 22:55

Khan designed the engines for the Vengeance and he himself was advanced so he knew advanced technologies, and Khan did actually care very much for the 72 members of his family.

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    While interesting, this answer doesn't give much detail in how the ship itself was able to catch up to and attack the Enterprise while it was in warp.
    – Edlothiad
    May 17, 2022 at 11:29

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