A proximity blast was a special phaser setting that was employed on at least one Federation starship, the USS Enterprise, in 2266 and again in 2267.


The Enterprise firing a phaser proximity blast

The detonation of a proximity blast

The proximity blast function operated by firing phasers in a concentrated bolt of energy, rather than a continuous beam. The phaser blast would then detonate at a predetermined point in space, affecting any ship or object within the blast radius.

The proximity blast setting was used in 2266 by the USS Enterprise while engaging in combat with a Romulan Bird-of-Prey. As the Romulan ship was equipped with an advanced cloaking device, the proximity blast function proved useful against it, as a more precise targeting of the vessel was impossible. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

The Enterprise used the proximity blast setting again a year later, when engaged in combat with a Klingon D7-class battle cruiser. The Enterprise was successfully able to destroy the Klingon vessel using blasts set to one hundred percent dispersal pattern. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

The proximity blast setting was first described in the writer's guide, The Star Trek Guide (third revision, page 9). [1] When phaser fire is set for proximity explosion it acts somewhat like a "depth charge". The original special effect was also used to represent a photon torpedo launch on many occasions (giving the episode "Balance of Terror" a doubtful reputation in retrospect, as the occasion on which Captain Kirk repeatedly orders phaser fire but every time he does so the Enterprise appears to launch photon torpedoes).
To correct this, when the episode "Balance of Terror" was digitally remastered by CBS Digital in 2006, a unique special effect was developed.

See also

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