I found the Prime Directive to be pointless as a whole. Notice it wasn't used too often in DS9. It was primarly in TNG and VOY you saw it.I always found the inconsistancy of TNG's use of the Prime Directive to be irritating as heck!
DS9 Episode #80 Starship Down
Inside and Background Information
This episode is an adaptation of classic submarine thrillers, such as the 1981 Wolfgang Petersen film Das Boot. Writer David Mack specifically told his writing partner, John J. Ordover, that he wanted to "sink the Defiant," having seen Das Boot the previous evening. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
The original concept for this episode had the Defiant plunging into a sea of an alien planet, with the crew attempting to escape before the ship's structural integrity field failed and the ship is crushed underwater. As David Mack summarizes the idea, "It was sort of The Poseidon Adventure, with the crew trapped and trying to get out before the ship runs out of power." This concept involved Odo diving into the water and seeping into the ship through a damaged part of the hull to lend assistance. Due to budgetary limits, however, this underwater concept was eliminated and the story was rewritten to have the Defiant sinking into a gas giant. Mack was extremely disappointed to lose the Odo rescue scene, as he felt it could have made for a tremendous shot; "We had an idea for a great visual with the water seeping through a cracked bulkhead and then this gold viscous fluid flowing with it, then Odo just stands up and reforms out of the water. We thought it would have been the coolest thing to ever come down the pike." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Ironically, Mack and Ordover originally thought of the episode as a bottle show, but when producer Steve Oster read their teleplay he responded by saying "It's a wonderful script and when you make the movie, I'd love to see it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Altering the concept from the Defiant sinking in an ocean to the Defiant filling with gas wasn't seen as an entirely successful move by everyone. René Echevarria, for example, points out, "shutting a hatch against an incoming rush of water is straight out of a submarine movie, but when we tried to do the classic scene with gas instead of water, it was hard to translate. It could have been a set piece viewers would never forget. Shutting the hatch and killing your own people! We did the best we could, but there was no tension." Similarly, for the duration of season four, Ira Steven Behr had a running joke were he would say, "we could still do that submarine movie, and we could do it right this time." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
The A-story bears a close resemblance to that of TNG: "Disaster", in which the main characters were all seen dealing with various different situations aboard the stricken USS Enterprise-D, as happens on the Defiant in this episode.
It an interesting note that in the TNG Epiosode "Disaster", Riker says that everyone on the bridge is likley dead. But in fact, O'Brien was among the few officers alive on the bridge. Then in this episode, O'Brien is the one who says the bridge crew is likley dead.
As with the B-story of "Hippocratic Oath", the "engineering story" of "Starship Down" was created specifically to show Worf's attempts to integrate into the new environment of DS9. According to director Alexander Singer, "It was terribly important to the series that we make him more accessible as a character than he had been on TNG. This was a different view of Worf. Suddenly he had to deal with the psychology of human behavior at a level to which he was unaccustomed." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
This episode was one of the first Star Trek episodes to use extensive CGI. The Defiant, the Jem'Hadar fighter, the atmospheric probe and the clouds were all created in a computer by VisionArt Design & Animation artists Daniel Kramer, Carl Hooper, Pete Shinners, Rob Bredow, and Ben Hawkins.
DS9 was more about staying in one place and not so much about exploring new worlds."The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy... and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous."