In "TNG: The Best of Both Worlds," 40 Starfleet starships under the command of Admiral J.P. Hanson gather near Wolf 359 to intercept a Borg cube ship traveling to Earth. (The Star Trek Encyclopedia (1999), by Mike Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Debbie Mirek)

From (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"):

RIKER: The Enterprise'll be there, sir. Maybe a little late, but we'll be there, sir.

HANSON [on monitor]: Your engagements have given us valuable time. We've mobilised a fleet of forty starships at Wolf three five nine, and that's just for starters. The Klingons are sending warships. Hell, we've even thought about opening communications with the Romulans.*

According to dialog in "TNG: The Drumhead," 39 ships are destroyed.

SATIE: Tell me, Captain, have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg?

PICARD: Yes, I have completely recovered.

SATIE: It must have been awful for you, actually becoming one of them, being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty nine? And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly eleven thousand. One wonders how you can sleep at night, having caused so much destruction. I question your actions, Captain. I question your choices. I question your loyalty.

I don't remember hearing of a ship surviving or anyone discussing it, but I just did the math.

From (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"):

RIKER: Slow to impulse. Take us to the battle coordinates, Mister Crusher. Yellow alert.

WORF: Sensors are picking up several vessels, Captain.

RIKER: The fleet?

DATA: No active subspace fields. Negligible power readings.

RIKER: Life signs?

DATA: Negative, sir.

WORF: Visual contact.

RIKER: On screen.

By the time that the Enterprise arrived, there were no life signs or power readings from the remaining hulls. So it appears none of the ships survived, unless one fled during the battle... but we still have the math 40-39=1.

What was the name of the one ship that survived the battle? What happened to it? Why did it survive? How did it survive? Did any of the crew aboard the surviving ship survive?

  • Most likely one of the ships could not rendezvous with the fleet before the battle.
    – Boelabaal
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:16
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    @Boelabaal Yes that would be the enterprise. However, the Admiral states that he has mobilized a fleet of 40 ships. Mobilized is past tense(or more like past participle in this sense). The verb mobilize means they're already there. The 40 are already present, Riker is sorry he couldn't be there with the 40 already present, which would make the Enterprise number 41.
    – JMFB
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 13:49
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    "Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty nine?" Satie may have just been baiting him too. Throw a lowball number out there to make him think a bit more, begging for a correction. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:27
  • 4
    Satie is a spoiled troll "ranting with near-hysteria", who let "manifest symptoms of monomania", "admitted no wrongdoing or apology and kept her haughty composure." Take any information from her with a grain of salt.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 1:28
  • 6
    Was there a U.S.S. Rincewind? Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 7:12

8 Answers 8


While no definitive list of the 40 ships was ever made, it's also important to keep in mind that the dialogue doesn't necessarily indicate any ships escaped or survived the battle unscathed. Assuming Hanson wasn't just rounding up to 40 in casual conversation, it simply means that all but one of the ships were destroyed or irreparably damaged in the battle.

Here is Admiral Satie's quote with a slightly different emphasis:

SATIE: It must have been awful for you, actually becoming one of them, being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty nine? And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly eleven thousand. One wonders how you can sleep at night, having caused so much destruction. I question your actions, Captain. I question your choices. I question your loyalty.

On-screen, most of the ships we saw in the aftermath were complete losses, floating about in numerous pieces. It's entirely possible that the last ship had fairly minor damage and the crew died to a radiation leak, loss of atmosphere, or some other similar catastrophe that would kill the crew without necessarily harming the vessel. In such a case, the ship itself would not have been considered lost, even though the crew was lost or forced to evacuate.

In fact, just knowing that thousands of crew members were forced to evacuate their own ships brings up another interesting point. Several crewmembers - including Benjamin & Jake Sisko - were using escape pods, which are short-range and would need to be recovered by a ship before they could leave the system. If this was done immediately following the battle (and therefore before the Enterprise arrived), then that certainly accounts for at least one ship that would have HAD to escape the battle in one piece. It would also explain why the Enterprise detected no life signs when we know for a fact that hundreds of people survived the battle and would have been floating around in escape pods or damaged shuttles otherwise.

UPDATE: At least one ship - the USS Ahwahnee - was salvaged after the battle & repaired, being back in active service less than a year later. The point about evacuation aside, and even if we assume all other vessels were outright destroyed, then this could be considered the one ship that wasn't lost (from a logistical viewpoint).

TRIVIA: According to the game Star Trek: Borg, during the fight the USS Righteous was transported ten years into the future, therefore surviving the battle relatively undamaged. At the time of The Drumhead, however, the ship would have been presumed destroyed and most likely counted among the thirty-nine lost vessels.


You're not going to get an answer. According to this interview with Michael Okuda:

The various "mystery" ships in the BOBW2 listings in the Encyclopedia were all ships that were either referred to in dialog, or were models that were filmed for the "graveyard" scene. We did not make up any specifically to flesh out the Encyclopedia, although we (the production staff) did NOT come up with a definitive list of ships in the battle. I was tempted to try to develop one, but it occured to me that future episodes might need to "remember" a previously forgotten Wolf 359 ship for as-yet-unwritten storylines, just as the DS9 pilot did with Sisko's ship, the Saratoga.

Larry's list in the Companion was info that I provided to him.

That same website has a page that sums up everything known about the ships involved in the battle.

  • 3
    Yes I saw this list on another site before I posted it, good old en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Battle_of_Wolf_359 There were only 16 ships on that list. Although it's an interesting read I was hoping that the fact that they specifically said there were 40 ships at they battle and in a later episode only 39 were destroyed was significant in some way. Clearly the writers knew about the number 40 mentioned previously by the Admiral. Why make it only 39 after? Has to be some reason.
    – JMFB
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 13:35
  • @JMFB: maybe the Admiral was providing an approximate figure, and the actual number was 39. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:31
  • @PaulD.Waite Perhaps...but that's pure conjecture and not supported by the facts. Part of the reason I included the statement from the encyclopedia was to refute any possibility of the number being a guess. It's also hard to imagine that an admiral would be off by a few ships and guesstimate what his fleet size is. Further he makes a very specific count of Federation ships 40, and then afterwards adds that they've reached out to the Klingons and possibly even the Romulans. The Admiral is pretty clear that the number is 40. The writers also stick to that number in the encyclopedia. 40 is the #.
    – JMFB
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 17:48
  • @JMFB: sure, but the fact that the encyclopaedia says 40 doesn’t really add anything, unless you think they had another source. (And because these are fictional events, that seems unlikely.) Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 23:56
  • @PaulD.Waite Yes it adds the fact that well after the fact, the writers of TNG included it as a fact. So the writers are acknowledging that number. That's a pretty strong argument. It adds a lot. It's kind of like Tolken saying just because a character says something in the story doesn't make it true. But in this case we have an admiral, it's simply the number in his fleet, no reason to lie or believe he didn't have accurate info. And the writers back that up in supplementary reference material. It's significant.
    – JMFB
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 0:01

Despite the circumstances, the conversation you cite between Riker and Hanson is a bit casual and informal in tone. It's quite plausible, if not even probable, that Hanson was simply rounding 39 up to 40 for the sake of conversational convenience.

  • 1
    And of course it's also possible Admiral Satie, speaking from memory, was incorrect.
    – pimlottc
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:15
  • 1
    @pimlottc In general, I think non-rounded numbers are more trustworthy, especially when the rounded number is higher. If the actual number was 40, I'd expect the Admiral to more likely mis-remember something in the 40s than 39.
    – Iszi
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:39
  • Perhaps. I'm just pointing out that we shouldn't automatically assume everything a character says is correct. Anyone can make mistakes.
    – pimlottc
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 0:21
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    And it also brings up the point that Admiral Hanson could have been mistaken for some logistical reason: for instance, perhaps 40 starships were mobilized, but for some reason or other one of them didn't make it to the battle.
    – user11521
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 15:30

Janeway quoted USS Enedavour's Captain Amazov in Scorpion Part 1: "In all my years I could never imagine terror such as this. Cold. Calculating... Murderous. It is just a matter of pure luck that any of us are alive right now. The Borg are as close to pure evil as any race we've ever encountered." So they definitely encountered the Borg, and barely survived.

Endeavour was seen in Redemption parts 1 and 2, a year after Wolf 359. The ship at the time lacked a full crew complement.

It's not canon that Amazov and the Endeavour encountered the Borg at Wolf 359. But it's consistent with what is canon. And per a non-canon comic, the USS Endeavour was the surviving ship.

  • How did the Endeavour manage to survive? What happened to the Endeavor between Wolf 359 and Redemption? I like the answer, but it isn't really definitive.
    – JMFB
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 4:35
  • Well, the Borg weren't there to kill every last person they could find. They ignored the Enterprise after getting what they wanted, so they'd probably ignore the Endeavour if she wasn't actively challenging the cube any more. She wasn't there when the Enterprise arrived, so clearly she warped out of the system, presumably taking the Saratoga life pods with it. All that's really lacking are exact details of why she left rather than stay behind and die. Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 4:42

There's also the Pearl Harbor factor. All of the ships sunk at Pearl Harbor were raised and placed back in service, except for two. But nobody says "we lost two ships" at Pearl Harbor; it's spoken of as a much broader disaster.

We assume Starfleet vessels fought until unable - at which point the Borg would ignore them. They are less likely to be recovered than 1941 Navy ships due to their propensity to explode... but fair chance damage control teams were able to stabilize quite a few. So I would expect a great deal more than one to be recovered and returned to service.

I would also figure any ship that couldn't quickly leave the site was evacuated, and presumably that evacuation happened before Enterprise's arrival, otherwise it creates a narrative problem in the story where Enterprise abandons survivors.

  • We do know that some of the people at Wolf 359 were assimilated by the Borg (above and beyond Picard/Locutus); Voyager showed some Borg with that as their origin.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 19:16
  • 2
    @RDFozz Which is itself a narrative problem... the only cube in Federation space exploded at the end of the episode. How did any of them end up in the Delta Quadrant?
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 19:59
  • 1
    Maybe the rescue/evacuation party who arrived after the battle was Borg. Maybe both parties arrived at once. Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 20:04

Some years ago I compiled a definitive list of the ships that were at the engagement. I have concluded that the "surviving ship" could be one of two that were used later in the series:

  • The USS AHWAHNEE - appeared later in the Romulan Taskforce
  • The USS MELBOURNE - Excelsior class - appeared later in DS9 and Voyager.
  • In rechecking it looks like the AHWAHNEE is the only ship that is seen again. The Melbourne is referred to in later DS9 and Voyager episodes.
    – Koloth
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 21:55

I always understood it that the Enterprise was the one surviving ship? I don't really read anything that doesn't fit with that assumption. I mean Hanson states they mobilised a fleet of 40 ships but is there a reason that Statement would not include the Enterprise?

If it was meant that way the next most likely survivor is the Yamaguchi, it was reused (The model with the lettering anyways) in DS9 later and it is supposed to have been repaired and made the prototype of it's own subclass by various beta sources.

  • The Enterprise arrived after the battle of Wolf 359 to find pretty much everyone dead
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 16:57
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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. I believe the reason that the Enterprise is not included in the count is because it wasn't at the battle, arriving only afterwards. The Enterprise wouldn't have been counted in the 40 because it wasn't present? Do you have any evidence that the Yamaguchi specifically was the survivor, as opposed to its being salvaged and refitted, like the Ahwahnee?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 16:58
  • I am definitely late, but using Certifiably Ingame's Video, The surviving ship was a Nebula Class USS Endeavour NCC-71805. Although another video, made by Venom Geek Media 98, States it was an Oberth Class USS Bonestell NCC-31600. Sources are here: youtu.be/cxaJl4F4fLw, And youtube.com/watch?v=JRitqARLhOM Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 16:36

In Voyager, it is said that the Melbourne, the Kyushu and the Endeavor did not survive. I am going with the Saratoga because they had to pick up the remaining crew ejected in escape pods and must have had power to do it.


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