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For the namesake Royal Navy ship, please see HMS Bounty (18th century).
"It was Dr. McCoy, with a fine sense of historical irony, who decided on a name for our captured Klingon vessel."
– James T. Kirk, 2286 (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

The "HMS Bounty" was the name given to the Klingon Bird-of-Prey commandeered by James T. Kirk and his command crew in 2285. The name was originally suggested by Dr. Leonard McCoy as an ironic joke, in reference to the famous sea-going vessel of the same name which was taken over by mutineers in the 18th century. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)


Kruge's Bird-of-Prey faces the Enterprise

The Bird-of-Prey, operating under its original name, was a 23rd century Klingon starship. This Bird-of-Prey was in the custody of the Klingon Imperial Fleet. Commander Kruge was the commanding officer of this ship. He had convinced the crewmembers aboard the vessel that they should acquire the Genesis Device from the Federation for the empire. In furtherance of this goal, the Bird-of-Prey attempted to disable the USS Grissom by targeting the engine section, which resulted in the inadvertent destruction of the science vessel.

Later, in a confrontation with the USS Enterprise, the bulk of Kruge's crew was killed when Kirk manipulated them into boarding the Enterprise, which was subsequently destroyed via self-destruct. After the death of Kruge on the surface of the Genesis Planet, Kirk and his crew were easily able to commandeer the ship, and used it to transport Spock, whose body had been regenerated by the Genesis wave, to Mount Seleya on Vulcan, where his katra was successfully reunited with his body. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

The voyage home

The Bounty enters a time warp

After three months, during which the Bounty underwent repairs, such as maintenance and conversion of some of its operating systems, Kirk and his crew used the ship to return to Earth in order to face charges regarding their unauthorized appropriation of the Enterprise. During their journey home, however, they were made aware of the destructive effects on Earth of an extremely powerful alien probe.

Upon further investigation, Spock realized that the probe was attempting to establish communication with humpback whales, a species which had been extinct for two hundred years. Having no choice, the crew elected to undertake the extremely risky slingshot effect to travel back in time and retrieve two humpbacks, with the intention of returning to the 23rd century and re-establishing communication with the probe.

The Bounty de-cloaks over a whaling ship

After successfully using a time warp to travel to the year 1986, Kirk ordered the Bounty set down in Golden Gate Park under cloak. Although it initially appeared as if the crew would be unable to return to their own time due to the de-crystallization of the ship's dilithium crystals as a result of the time travel, Spock was able to develop a plan whereby high-energy photons could be collected from the nuclear reactor of a naval vessel, and then injected into the dilithium chamber, causing recrystallization.

As this was occurring, Captain Scott performed a series of modifications to the Bounty's cargo bay, transforming it into a whale tank with which to transport the humpbacks. The modifications complete, the Bounty departed to retrieve the whales, in the process coming across a Finnish whaling vessel attempting to kill the whales. Operating under cloak, the crew positioned the Bounty between the boat and the whales, successfully deflecting a harpoon. Kirk then ordered the Bounty decloaked, an act which had the effect of frightening the whalers off.

The Enterprise crew evacuates the Bounty

Using the Bounty's transporters, the whales were beamed aboard, and the crew was able to recreate the time warp and return to the 23rd century. However, upon their arrival, the Bounty's power systems began to fail as a result of their close proximity to the probe, and subsequently crashed north-west of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay.

With no power left to open the bay doors, and the ship starting to sink, the whales were trapped and in danger of drowning. As a result, Kirk swam underwater to access the explosive override, opening the doors and freeing the whales. After a brief round of communication between the whales and the probe, the probe ceased its destructive signal and departed Earth. With its mission complete, the Bounty sank into the bay.(Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)



Background information

Proposed storyboard image

In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the design of the bridge aboard the Bounty was completely redressed from the vessel's original appearance in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. This appearance acted as a reference for all future bridges aboard Klingon ships. An early storyboard draft of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country featured the Bounty in spacedock being disassembled by Starfleet engineers.

A blocking model of the Bird-of-Prey was created by ILM. It measures approximately 9" × 2", 5" × 5", 7" × 7" and was made from foam core, cardstock, styrene, and plastic. [1]

According to Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p. 27), the authors "...assume that the bird-of-prey in Star Trek III was a B'rel-class ship...".

The Bounty was the first Klingon Bird-of-Prey to appear on screen.


The Star Trek Customizable Card Game gives the Bounty's original name as IKS Qel'Poh. The Decipher RPG module Starships identifies it as the IKS B'rel, the prototype of the class and gives its registry as IKC-9200. The novella The Chimes at Midnight and Star Trek Adventures - The Klingon Empire Core Rulebook call it the IKS Katai.

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