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Alert condition red

The red alert graphic as used on the Constitution II-class

"If I jumped every time a light came on around here, I'd end up talking to myself."
– Doctor Leonard McCoy, ignoring the alert lights after James T. Kirk's physical was completed, 2266 ("The Corbomite Maneuver")

Red alert, also known as condition red or code red, was the highest alert signal status on Starfleet vessels and starbases. It was usually triggered when entering a combat situation, or in the case of a critical systems failure.


Captain's chair controls

A red alert option in the armrest controls of a Constitution-class command chair

Galaxy alert status indicators

A Galaxy-class alert indicator in normal, yellow alert, and red alert modes

Red alert (sovereign class)

The red alert graphic as seen on a Sovereign-class starship

Vehicle status, condition red

The condition red graphic as used on the Intrepid-class

One stage above a yellow alert, this status had weapons systems and shields brought to full power, essentially preparing the ship for combat. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

The Klingon equivalent of this status was defense condition one. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")

The Klingon equivalent for red alert may be a reference to the American alert system DEFCON.

The Pakled equivalent of a red alert was called red alarm. (LD: "wej Duj")

Red alert could also be ordered during various other emergency situations, such as a ship being boarded, radiation exposure, a security alert, massive systems failure, an imminent warp core breach, an evacuation order, and a viral medical emergency, among others. (TNG: "Descent", "Final Mission", "True Q"; VOY: "Threshold", "Day of Honor", "Macrocosm"; DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil"; Star Trek Generations; Star Trek Beyond)

A red alert could either be activated manually by the commanding officer or the officer in charge, or automatically, as when a ship was attacked, entered a dangerous area, et cetera. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Arena")

The raising of shields automatically triggered a red alert. (TNG: "Justice", "Contagion")

The ability to activate red alert could apparently also be granted even to non-ranking crewmen at discretion, as Seven of Nine had clearance to place the USS Voyager on red alert. (VOY: "Nothing Human", "Virtuoso")

Engaging self-destruct automatically triggers red alert and can only be deactivated by the captain using command codes. (TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; TNG: "11001001", "Where Silence Has Lease"; DS9: "The Adversary"; VOY: "Deadlock", "Dreadnought"; Star Trek Nemesis)

Sections of a starship could be placed on red alert while other sections remained at a lower alert status. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Notable uses[]

In 2152, "condition red" was among several possible names that Lieutenant Malcolm Reed considered for a security protocol that was eventually dubbed "tactical alert". Because of Reed having an obsession with the security protocol, Trip Tucker suggested "Reed Alert", which was also rejected by Reed. (ENT: "Singularity")

In 2266, upon discovering a phaser on overload hidden somewhere in his quarters on the USS Enterprise, Captain Kirk announced a "double red alert". (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

In 2287, Commander Chekov placed the USS Enterprise-A on red alert when Captain Klaa cloaked his Bird-of-Prey. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

In 2293, while the USS Enterprise-A was returning from Rura Penthe, an intercom message by Commander Uhura informed the crew that only certain decks should remain on red alert while in Klingon space. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

This makes it clear that only parts of the ship can be on red alert.

In 2366, while trying to rescue Commander Geordi La Forge from Galorndon Core, Captain Jean-Luc Picard placed the USS Enterprise-D on red alert when the Romulans crossed the Neutral Zone looking for their downed crewman. (TNG: "The Enemy")

During the Battle of Wolf 359, the USS Saratoga went to Red alert before attacking Locutus' cube. (DS9: "Emissary")

In 2369, Commander Benjamin Sisko ordered a red alert for Deep Space 9 when an alien ship from the Gamma Quadrant fired a radiation burst onto the shields, which depolarized them. (DS9: "Captive Pursuit")

The same year, Sisko ordered a red alert when a pulse wave torpedo was fired into a subspace rupture. (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses")

In 2372, Captain Sisko ordered a red alert on the USS Defiant, shortly before the cloaking device was deactivated and the shields raised to prepare for battle with three Klingon Birds-of-Prey. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

In 2373, the USS Enterprise-E went to Red Alert before heading to Earth to assist the rest of Star fleet at the Battle of Sector 001. (Star Trek: First Contact)

In 2374, Chakotay mentioned that the USS Voyager would remain on "full" red alert. (VOY: "Scorpion, Part II")

Later that year, the USS Honshu went to red alert when it was attacked, and subsequently destroyed, by a Cardassian destroyer unit. (DS9: "Waltz")

Alarm sounds[]

In addition to dimming of the lights and computer terminals displaying red graphics, an audible alarm would sound.


Background information[]

"Red alert" comes from the naval tradition of general quarters, and, in fact, the command "general quarters" could be used interchangeably to bring the ship into red alert. In TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", red alert is referred to as both "condition alert" and "general alert". In TNG: "Where No One Has Gone Before", Captain Jean-Luc Picard issues both commands.

The uses of red alert were preceded by double red alert being mentioned in "The Conscience of the King". The first produced episode to mention red alert was "Court Martial", which, in airing order, was preceded by a reference to it in "The Squire of Gothos". In the final draft script of "Court Martial", double red alert was used extensively instead of red alert, indicating that double red alert developed into this alert status. Scripted references to red alert in the same final draft teleplay were evidently later changed to yellow alert.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the red alert lights changed during the show's run. The first time red alert was heard was in "Encounter at Farpoint", but the lights weren't flashing red. The first time the lights were seen flashing red was in "The Naked Now", which had only the top and bottom part of the lights flashing. However, beginning in "Where Silence Has Lease", all of the lights flashed. The next change in the lights was seen in "Man Of The People", in which there was a longer period between when it flashed and when the sound was heard.

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