Star Trek Expanded Universe
Operation Return
Part of Dominion War
Sisko's plan to retake DS9.
Date: 2374
Location: Bajor sector
Result: Decisive Federation Alliance victory
United Federation of Planets, Klingon Empire Dominion
Captain Benjamin Sisko, General Martok Gul Dukat, Female Changeling, Weyoun 5, First Kar'ukan
600+ Starfleet vessels and a unknown number of Klingon Defense Force warships 1,254 ships, Deep Space 9 and 2,800 ships from the Gamma Quadrant
  • Unknown Cardassian Empire and Alpha Jem'Hadar casualties
  • 2,800 Gamma Jem'Hadar warships made to vanish by the Prophets
Previous Next
First Battle of Vulcanis Raid on Coridan
For the Pendragon universe version of this engagement, see Operation Return (PDN).

Operation Return was the codename for the joint attack on Deep Space 9 by the Federation and Klingon Empire in 2374. The objective of the mission was to recapture the station and regain control of the Alpha Quadrant side of the Bajoran wormhole so to prevent Dominion reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant.

Planning stage[]

After several months in control of Deep Space 9, the Dominion had yet to bring down the minefield blocking the entrance to the wormhole. However, the longer they remained in control of the station, the higher the risk they would figure a way to bring the field down. Captain Benjamin Sisko came up with a plan to regain control of the starbase.

The plan would involve a joint Starfleet and Klingon Defense Force task force made up of elements from the Second, Fifth, Ninth Fleet and a large contingent of Klingon warships. After getting approval from Starfleet Command the fleets started to rally at Starbase 375.

The fleet departs Starbase 375.

At the same time the Cardassians had finally found a way to bring down the minefield. The resistance force on Deep Space 9 managed to smuggle a message out to Sisko warning about the imminent destruction of the minefield. Unfortunately Sisko was still waiting for Klingon Chancellor Gowron to commit his forces to the operation and the Ninth Fleet would not arrive at the starbase before the field was due to be deactivated. This news forced Admiral William Ross to order Sisko to take the ships they had and fight their way to Deep Space 9 before it was too late. (DS9: "Favors the Bold")

The Dominion was soon aware of the sortie of the large fleet towards Deep Space 9 and Gul Dukat organised a large Dominion force to hold off the attack. Both fleets met each other roughly three hours high warp from the Bajor system. The Dominion fleet formed a defensive bulwark that blocked the Federation fleet. The Dominion only had to delay the Federation fleet and took a defensive stance.

The battle[]

Fighters attack the Dominion and Cardassian fleet.

Sisko tried to open a hole in the Dominion formation and spent three hours hammering the Cardassian starships with wave after wave of attack fighters. Dukat decided to allow a hole to appear and draw the Federation fleet and destroy it. Sisko recognised the tactic but with time running out had no choice but to take the bait.

The Federation fleet advances.

Once inside the Dominion formation the Federation fleet's formation fell apart due to communications jamming by the Dominion. For two hours the Federation fleet battled on before the surprise arrival of Klingons reinforcements. The Klingons blasted a hole into the Dominion formation allowing the USS Defiant to break through. With time running out and no other ships also through the Dominion lines the Defiant made its way toward Bajor, alone.

The Majestic and Sitak are hit.

The Klingons were eventually successful in turning the Dominion's flank which started a general collapse in the Dominion lines, and an additional 200 ships eventually broke through to follow Defiant.

The Klingons enter the fray.

Despite the battle turning against the Dominion fleet the main objective was successful as the minefield was destroyed just as the Defiant arrived, too late to stop it. Captain Sisko then took the Defiant into the wormhole to meet the Dominion reinforcements unmolested by the station thanks to sabotage to the station's weapons by the resistance on the starbase. While in the wormhole Sisko was able to convince the Prophets to intervene and they simply made the vast 2,800 strong fleet vanish. The Defiant exited the wormhole alone, much to the surprise to those on Deep Space 9, and attacked the helpless station. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")

During the course of the battle, the USS Vulture took a direct hit, causing an explosion in engineering, which resulted in the death of the ship's chief engineer. Captain Victor Mandrake promoted the junior engineer Ensign Carmen Gomez to a field promotion of Lieutenant and made her the ship's new chief engineer. After the battle, Starfleet Command upheld the promotion. (Star Trek: Pioneer: "Mandrake's Stand"; Star Trek: Far Horizons)

Starfleet re-occupies Deep Space 9.

With the lack of Gamma Quadrant reinforcements, Deep Space 9's weapons' array offline and a large enemy fleet inbound the Female Changeling opted to evacuate the station and pull her forces back to regroup. The Dominion fleet disengaged from the battle and retreated, handing the Federation and Klingons victory. Starfleet quickly reoccupied Deep Space 9 and regained control of the Bajor system. Gul Dukat's daughter Tora Ziyal was shot dead by Corat Damar for aiding the sabotage of the station, driving Dukat to madness. He refused to leave her body and was captured when the Federation arrived at the station. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")


The victory was a huge morale boost for the allies. Not only did they regain the station but also they defeated a much larger Dominion fleet. It also guaranteed that the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant would have to fight the war without assistance from the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")

However, this would be the last successful advance by the Alliance for several months: afterwards the war became bogged down in a bloody stalemate that eventually prompted Sisko to plot to bring the Romulan Star Empire into the war on the side of the allies. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

The Prophets returned the vanished Dominion fleet to existence in 2409, and it briefly seized control of Deep Space 9 from the Federation. The Dominion government ordered the fleet to return to the Gamma Quadrant in exchange for the repatriation of the Female Changeling, who had been imprisoned for war crimes by the Federation following the end of the Dominion War, after a brief battle with recalcitrant Jem'Hadar that ended in the death of their commander First Kar'ukan. (Star Trek Online; The War of the Masters: "Past Continuous")

Participating starships[]


Klingon Empire[]

External links[]