Second Battle of Deep Space 9

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See also: First Battle of Deep Space 9

The Second Battle of Deep Space 9 was the opening battle of the Dominion War.

In this battle, the combined forces of the Dominion and the Cardassian Union launched an assault on the Federation-held starbase Deep Space 9. Although the station was captured by the Dominion, the battle was a strategic victory for the Federation because they successfully closed the Bajoran Wormhole, preventing the Dominion from sending reinforcements to join the battle from the Gamma Quadrant. In addition, the Dominion's diversion of forces, away from their front lines in order to attack the station, enabled a Federation-Klingon fleet to destroy vital Dominion shipyards.


Following their coalition with the Cardassian Union, the Dominion began fortifying their foothold in the Alpha Quadrant with weekly convoys of warships and troops through the wormhole. As time went on, Cardassian space became a veritable fortress, teeming with Jem'Hadar soldiers and their Vorta overseers.

Although a technical state of war did not exist, and neither side had fully committed to immediate combat, numerous skirmishes took place along the border during this period. Aside from the Dominion's attempt to destroy the Bajor system using a trilithium bomb, the Jem'Hadar and the Cardassians attacked and destroyed numerous Federation and Klingon patrol ships in a sustained campaign across the border sectors. Casualties of these attacks included the USS Tian An Men and the IKS B'Moth.

In addition to the military advances, the Dominion made major inroads into the Alpha Quadrant politically as well, signing nonaggression pacts with several regional powers, and offering similar pacts to Bajor and other independent worlds in the area. The Dominion's greatest diplomatic achievement, however, was the signing of a nonaggression pact with the Romulan Star Empire, the third major power in the region. The Dominion's goal seemed clear: to isolate the Federation politically and militarily. Its classic strategy of divide-and-conquer seemed to be succeeding admirably. Only the Klingon Empire stood with the Federation against the Dominion. With peaceful means failing to slow the Dominion's advance, Deep Space 9 Captain Benjamin Sisko observed, "...a war may be our only hope."


USS Defiant lays the minefield

With its strategic position rapidly deteriorating, the Federation resolved to prevent the Dominion from sending further reinforcements into the Alpha Quadrant by mining the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole. Maintenance engineer Rom suggested using self-replicating mines equipped with cloaking devices for the blockade; not only would such a minefield be undetectable to approaching ships, but it would also be virtually indestructible as each mine destroyed would be replaced by another mine in the vicinity. Miles O'Brien and Jadzia Dax quickly developed a working model, and the USS|Defiant immediately began laying down the minefield.

This action could be seen as nothing less than a provocation for war, however, and the Dominion's primary overseer, Weyoun, promptly demanded that the mining of the wormhole be halted immediately. Captain Sisko flatly refused.

An intricate dance of lies and intimations began: Weyoun claimed that the Cardassians, having suffered terrible damage during the Klingon-Cardassian War, required massive assistance in rebuilding their infrastructure and defenses following the Klingon invasion. Sisko played along, claiming to have had no idea of the Cardassians' dire humanitarian situation. The two representatives arranged a deal, in which the Federation would remove the minefield, and the Dominion would restrict further convoys to nonmilitary personnel and materials. However, both sides recognized this repartee as nothing more than a ruse to buy time – Weyoun to prepare the Dominion fleet for the attack, and Sisko to complete the minefield.

With war imminent, Sisko, speaking both as a Star Fleet Captain and Emissary of the Prophets, advised that the Bajoran Provisional Government sign the nonaggression pact offered to them by the Dominion, thus ensuring the planet and its people were kept out of the now-inevitable conflict. The pact was passed, and First Minister Shakaar Edon ordered the evacuation of all Bajoran personnel from the station.

The Battle

The docking ring under attack

Intent on preventing its lifeline to the Gamma Quadrant from being blocked, the Dominion launched a massive assault fleet towards Deep Space 9, with Gul Dukat himself in command. For reasons then unknown, the Federation had not reinforced its position at Deep Space 9, leaving only the USS Defiant and the IKS Rotarran to supplement the station's defenses. Anticipating the enemy attack, Sisko ordered the Rotarran to patrol the border and provide advance warning when the Dominion fleet approached.

The Dominion assault force comprised nearly 300 Jem'Hadar and Cardassian warships. Captain Sisko confidently rejected Dukat's offer to surrender, and both sides prepared for the onslaught. Dukat ordered five Jem'Hadar attack wings to intercept the Defiant, while his remaining ships targeted the station.

As the Dominion fleet opened fire, Weyoun and Dukat were unpleasantly surprised to find Deep Space 9's shields holding up under the barrage – Federation deflector shields had previously been impotent in defending against the Jem'Hadar's phased polaron beam weaponry. Dukat ordered more ships to open fire on the station.

Meanwhile, the Defiant herself was coming under fire as she was laying the minefield. The Rotarran provided interference and covering fire, giving the Defiant enough time to complete and activate the minefield, sealing off the wormhole.

The Rotarran and the Defiant depart Deep Space 9

Using his knowledge as the station's former commanding officer, Dukat was able to cut main power to Deep Space 9's shields by directing all Dominion firepower into section 17 of the outer docking ring. With the wormhole now blocked, and the station becoming an impossible position to hold, Captain Sisko ordered all Star Fleet personnel to evacuate Deep Space 9. As Dukat ordered his reserve units to enter the battle, the station's Star Fleet crew boarded the Defiant and the Rotarran, taking all sensitive equipment with them and leaving the station in the hands of the Bajoran Militia.

As the evacuation neared completion, Sisko addressed the remaining station residents on the Promenade, promising, "I will not rest until I stand with you again, here, in this place where I belong."

Once the Defiant and the Rotarran had safely departed the station, Major Kira Nerys, now the Bajorans' representative to the Dominion, activated Program Sisko-197. The program completely sabotaged the station's computer and power systems, leaving the station a nearly lifeless hulk. The Dominion and Cardassian troops boarded the station without resistance, officially reclaiming Terok Nor, the station they had abandoned in orbit of Bajor five years before.


Dominion forces board Deep Space 9

Dukat and the Dominion might have captured Deep Space 9 from the Federation, but the price they paid of more than fifty Dominion ships destroyed ultimately won them nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. The minefield operated independently from the station and proved resistant to all initial attempts to dismantle it. Likewise, the sabotage of the station itself meant that in the short term it would serve little function other than as a command and supply outpost behind the front lines.

In addition, while the Dominion had thrown its full force towards capturing the station, a combined Star Fleet-Klingon taskforce crossed the border into Cardassian territory and destroyed the shipyards at Torros III nearly unopposed. This victory would have much greater impact in the short- and mid-term course of the war, as the Dominion's shipbuilding capabilities were seriously affected by the loss of that major facility.

Ultimately, the station was recaptured by a joint Star Fleet and Klingon assault during Operation Return approximately five months later.