In 2267 the Enterprise visited an experimental colony on Gamma Hydra IV when several of the senior officers were afflicted by a condition which resembled extremely rapid ageing. Commodore Stocker was aboard as a passenger at the time, and stated that he believed that Captain Kirk was becoming gradually unfit for command. He was very concerned that the ship should reach Starbase 10 as soon as possible, rather than remaining to investigate whatever may have caused the odd ageing process. 
||The Deadly Years
As Kirk aged more and more he gradually began to issue confusing or irrelevant orders, with Dr. McCoy being able to make no headway on determining the cause or cure. In time Commander Spock suggested that the recent passage of a comet might have bathed the planet in low level radiation, causing the effect. As the situation progressed it became clear that Captain Kirk was not fit for command, and he was relieved. Commodore Stocker took command of the ship and ordered it to Starbase 10, cutting through the Romulan Neutral Zone to take the most direct route. 
The Enterprise was quickly detected and a Romulan force attacked. Stocker tried to establish communication but all attempts were ignored; outnumbered and outgunned, the ship was suffering repeated hits and was likely to soon be overwhelmed. In sickbay McCoy managed to develop a cure just in time, and a restored Kirk arrived on the bridge to take command. He quickly surmised the situation as hopeless and ordered a message sent in a code which the Romulans were known to have broken; the message indicated that he intended to activate "the corbomite device", which would destroy his ship along with everything within 200,000 kilometres. The Romulan ships retreat, alarmed, and Kirk orders the Enterprise to slip away. 
Although not a large or especially influential battle, this event is widely regarded as a fine example of Kirk's unorthodox style> Although a fine combat officer, Captain Kirk was frequently able to devise ingenious solutions to apparently insoluble problems. His ability to elude a much superior force and escape to safety by use of a bluff is typical of the kind of trick one of Starfleet's legends employed.