Starship Volumetrics III:  Crew Densities

Starship Volumetrics I
Starship Volumetrics II:  Chrono-Volumetrics
Starship Volumetrics III:  Crew Densities

Though we haven't always gotten mass information for various ships, we do get crew counts pretty often.  As a result, we can use our volume data to estimate the number of personnel per cubic meter.  The utility of this can be somewhat iffy, of course, and one must be cautious when attempting to apply the information.  A ship jam-packed with automated equipment might be cramped for the crew but show a very low crew density.  Thus, while the crew density might suggest a luxury liner, in reality the ship might be a garbage scow in the eyes of the crew.

One should also attempt to take into account issues such as the warp nacelles.  For example, the nacelles take up about 9.6% of the Galaxy's volume, about 5.6% of the Intrepid's, and a whopping 26% of the TOS Constitution.

In the below, however, we'll simply take the crew counts from various episodes and the ship volumes and thereby create a crew density estimate.  Commentary will follow, with some attempted extrapolations afterward.

Vessel Length
Crew Crew Density
NX Class 225 199,505 80 1 per 2490m
Constitution (pre-TOS) 289 211,248 203 1 per 1040m
Constitution (TOS) 289 211,248 430 1 per 490m
Constitution (TMP) 305 234,928 500 1 per 470m
Miranda (TNG) 243 217,770 30 1 per 7260m
Galaxy 642 5,820,983 ~850 1 per 6848m
Defiant 120 61,724 50 1 per 1235m
Intrepid 344 625,885 150 1 per 4170m
Nova 160 68,666 80 1 per 860m
Klingon BOP (B'rel) 110 40,404 12 1 per 3367m
Klingon D-7 250 158,879 400 1 per 400m
Borg Sphere 600 113,097,335 11,000 1 per 10280m
Borg Cube 3036 28,000,000,000 129,000 1 per 217000m
Borg Cube 3036 28,000,000,000 64,000 1 per 437500m


1.  The Galaxy Class crew figure of 850 is a ballpark estimate of the actual crew count versus the civilians and families aboard.  Total personnel aboard the ship usually ran somewhere in the 1,015 range.  The true crew count could be made smaller quite easily.

2.  Take a look at the Constitutions.   If we convert to area and assume 3 meter decks, then we're looking at approximately 163 square meters per person, or a box of about 13m by 13m.  (That translates into about 1750 square feet . . . a pretty nice house by American standards.)   The Galaxy offers almost 2300 square meters per person by that standard, or a box of 47 by 47 meters.  Even knocking ten percent from the Galaxy figure to account for the nacelles, that's still over 2000m.   Of course, even then, we're still not accounting for bulkheads and machinery, which would eat into either figure.

With 3m decks the Galaxy Class would have almost two million square meters of deckspace, or about 1.65 million at 3.5 meter deck height.  Some, of course, would be taken up by walls, machinery, tankage, and other similar elements. If 40% is so employed, then the remaining space would equal 992,880m, or just under a square kilometer of room.   For each of the 1000 people aboard the Enterprise-D, that's still almost a thousand square meters per person, which would cover quarters, corridors, and public spaces.  

Not accounting for life support requirements, you should be able to house several thousand people on a Galaxy Class easily . . . the World Trade Center had about a square kilometer of rentable office space and was generally occupied by about 50,000 people.

Then again, the Intrepid is known to be pretty much full with her 150 crew.  The crew had to double up to make room for 200 Klingons in "Prophecy"[VOY7], and has an evacuation limit of about 320 per "Friendship One"[VOY7].  That means that the ship's capacity is about 470 people, which comes out to 1331m per person.  Given her 3.5m decks, that's 380m per person.   That figure covers everything from machinery to bulkheads to nacelles.   Removing the latter gives us 360m. 

So, if on an Intrepid a person requires 360m of space (including quarters, corridors, public space, support systems, bulkheads, ship machinery, and so on), then the capacity of a Galaxy, assuming 3.5 meter decks and removing ten percent for the nacelles, would be on the order of 4,150 personnel.   However, we know the Galaxy could handle 15,000 per "Ensigns of Command"[TNG3], so that's hardly a firm figure.

All of the above simply goes to prove that raw capacity is difficult to determine.  After all, I'd expect that some crew bunkbeds (a la ST6) would do wonders for the Intrepid's true capacity, if her environmental and support systems would allow for it. 

3.  The Defiant and Nova are both small vessels.  Though the Defiant has a better number above, her large nacelles are probably the reason.   Nonetheless, the primary role of the 8-deck Nova was planetary research.   While that might imply that the crew would have better options for shore leave, it would still seem that there ought to be not only a lot of research room, but also at least a bit of recreational space during their long-term research.   The Defiant, on the other hand, is a cramped 5-deck patrol ship lacking in creature comforts.   The fact that they appear to have similar crew densities thus seems a bit odd.

4.  Two Miranda Class ships were seen with crews of about 30 in TNG . . . the supply ship Lantree (26) and the science vessel Brattain (34).  It's likely that the tiny crew counts were meant to convey that technology had advanced to a great degree, but in reality such vessels would've been almost spookily roomy.   Beyond that, there's the simple fact that the ships were running with about ten people per shift.   Nevertheless, it is an interesting bit of continuity that the Galaxy and Miranda were portrayed with similar crew densities.

5.  The Klingons were packed like sardines into the TOS-era D-7. 


1.  Based on the Borg sphere, Borg crew density is typically one drone per 10,000m, which would suggest that the five-man scout from "I, Borg"[TNG5] should not have been larger than a Defiant, Oberth, or Nova.  On the other hand, the full-size Borg cubes appear to be lightly crewed for their size.  Thus the ship could've been the size of a Vor'Cha or Galor by the cube standard.

2. The Excelsior . . . for which we've never received a real crew count . . . has a volume over four times greater than that of the 1701.  She could thus quite easily have a crew of up to 2000 in the TMP era, though 750 - 1000 seems more likely.  By the TNG era, however, her crew could be around 175.   A likely TNG crew count would be 300 - 500.

3.  TMP-era Miranda Class ships certainly had more than 30 personnel, and it's likely that the Mirandas which fought in the Dominion War had more also.  The TMP Enterprise had 500 personnel aboard, and the Mirandas were almost identical in volume.  It seems unlikely that the Miranda Class would've had less than 350 people aboard in that era, and 100 - 200 seems likely for the Dominion War era.

4.  If we presume that a Star Destroyer crew count should fall within the ranges of Federation ships listed above, then the crew count should be somewhere between 7,000 (at TNG Miranda levels) and 115,000 (at TMP Enterprise levels).   Given the size of Imperial bridge crews, it might seem likely that the ship is pretty densely crewed.  However, The Clone Wars suggests that Republic era Venator cruisers, forerunners to ISDs, were rather lightly crewed ... we have no evidence for a crew count beyond 1000 (or indeed, beyond 100).  The engine room, for instance, has no dedicated staff, though the guns do.   Also worth noting is the massive flight deck eating into much of the habitable volume, and we can guess that perhaps machinery also takes up a great deal of the vessel.  

Assuming 1000 crew on a Venator, the crew density would be a mere 1 per 10,617m . . . similar to the Borg sphere. Thus, for the ISD, I would ballpark guesstimate a crew on the order of 5,000.