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In the Star Trek universe, what happens if a ship crashes into another and one has the shields up? What happens if both have shields up?

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Unshielded-ship-on-shielded-ship:

Obviously, an unprotected ship hitting a shield will be damaged in proportion to the impact momentum. Shields act as physical barriers to matter and high concentrations of energy (you will notice that visible light travels through shields just fine, while high-energy electromagnetic weapons fire is deflected).

Shield-on-shield collision

I recall either Voyager episodes "Raven" or "Equinox" (or both) containing scenes where shield contact takes place. I recall Seven's shuttle shield-bumping a B'omar vessel, but the Memory Alpha synopsis says phasers were used (my memory may be flawed).

Shield harmonics are important. Shields of differing frequencies will bounce off each other. Impact force will translate to vibrations inside the vessels, which will be handled by inertial dampeners within their limits. Both shields will suffer drains. I cannot recall ever seeing two ships with identical shield harmonics colliding, but I'm fairly certain the shields will pass through each other and the ships will collide hull-on-hull.

Update: As per comment #1 below: When harmonics are matched, instead of a hull-on-hull collision, the hull of the ship with the smaller shield will impact the shield of the other ship.

Update 2: Seven of Nine was once seen walking through a Federation-style containment field (which appear to use the same principles as deflector shields) while her Borg shield was operational. This seems to suggest that a strong field has the potential to overpower the deflective ability of a weaker one.

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    If the shields pass through each other, before hull-on-hull collision you'd have hull-on-shield collision, wouldn't you? – pupeno Jan 19 '12 at 9:48
  • @J.PabloFernández: Excellent catch. I'll make the edit. – HNL Jan 19 '12 at 11:22
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    We actually see a smaller, unshielded ship hit the (shielded) Enterprise near the beginning of the TNG episode "The Hunted". The smaller craft bounces off the Enterprise's shields. – Matt Peterson Jan 19 '12 at 17:06
  • I should add, however (regarding the event in "The Hunted"), that the crew seems surprised that this is the outcome of the collision for some reason. Maybe they were expecting the collision to destroy the smaller ship. – Matt Peterson Jan 19 '12 at 17:22
  • +1; Nice answer; I saw this question summary (on the main page) and immediately thought I needed to post an answer as no one ever thinks about the shield harmonics... I'm delighted to see I'm wrong. :) – K-H-W Jan 22 '12 at 15:23
-1

1: In the remastered version of "The Doomsday Machine", we see the very damaged Starship Constellation take a non-shielded hit from a passing rock, and the hit doesn't inflict further damage to the already damaged starship. (Side Note: To me, that seemed to be a way of saying that even a damaged starship is tougher than an intact star destroyer that does suffer damage from such hits.)

2: Then we see what happens when the ENTERPRISE-E rams the larger Romulan ship, bow to bow, in the Nemesis movie.

3: So will hull integrity affect the outcome of shield-to-shield collisions, or not? From the answers that I've read thus far, all ships seem to be intact during the aforementioned incidents in those examples.

  • 1
    Hi, Welcome to stack exchange. It looks like Points 1., and 2. come part way to making an answer, but then digress into part 3. which is more of a comment. If you could edit this answer to either completely address the question, or remove it and try to comment on the question once you have 50 reputation points. Thanks! – AncientSwordRage Mar 15 '13 at 13:50
  • This is what I get for writing while drowsy! What I wrote makes sense to me, so I don't know how it doesn't to others, unless you're not taking into account, that I'm using the other answers as a part of my answer too. Hmm. You're welcome! – Jimmie Ray Giboney Apr 12 '13 at 17:30
  • Jimmie, each answer should be able to stand on it's own (I mean, what if the other answers were deleted, or someone read yours first?). If that means quoting other's answers, then that's fine! But as it stands you seem to be 'discussing' around the question, not 'answering' it, by the points you make. – AncientSwordRage Apr 12 '13 at 17:46

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