Okay, so this has been something that has bothered me for a long time. Whenever anyone enters or leaves the Defiant, they do so through an airlock. Yet, when you look at how the Defiant docks, it doesn't make sense. Here she is docked:

enter image description here

Now, that is the front of the ship. However, the front of the ship is this:

enter image description here

So, how do they exit through something that looks like a forward nacelle?

  • 11
    I think the blue on the front is the deflector, not a nacelle, but your point stands.
    – Andy
    Aug 29, 2013 at 17:22
  • 1
    According to this schematic, looks like that is the deflector: startrekdesktopwallpaper.com/new_wallpaper/… . In general aren't thrusters used when ships go in reverse?
    – Andy
    Aug 29, 2013 at 18:12
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    @MyCodeSucks: I don't think nacelles work like that - the blue glowy bits aren't places where thrust comes out. I believe the idea is that they create a warp field. See e.g. ex-astris-scientia.org/treknology/warpfield.gif Sep 27, 2013 at 9:37
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    @Unix: "the Defiant is docked on the side" - do you have a screenshot that shows that situation? Jul 22, 2015 at 7:33
  • 4
    @Unix: I've never seen the Defiant docked on the side. Not even once. Nov 4, 2015 at 2:35

7 Answers 7


Okay, let me preface my answer with my own military experience. You may thinking about this too literally. They would not have to necessarily be using the deflector array as an exit. They could be leaving via a number of means you may not consider on the face of thinking about it.

Starships need exits, lots of them

  • On our current Earth, military vessels that are designed for combat, not necessarily comfort, portals to the outside of the hull can be found in strange places. Sandwiched between two spaces doing other kinds of duty where an exit is considered strategically important if you need to escape those spaces, but may not be used otherwise.

  • On a starship, particularly one as tiny as the Defiant, (about 170 meters long) I can see the surface of the ship being dotted with a variety of places where an extending tubule could connect and seal a docking connection between two ships or a ship and a station. It would likely be very small, two meters or less, but certainly enough for crew members to leave one at a time on a built-in ladder. Since we don't ever see them leave via the docking bay, we are not privy to the process.

  • Now given that the entire nose of the ship is inside the hanger bay, it may simply be easier to seal the ship in via force field, and pressurize the part of the ship inside the field. Then ladders could be extended or moved upward and allow egress while inside the station.

  • Looking at official schematics, no official markings indicated airlocks or escape portals but that does not mean they aren't there, it just means most people are looking for photon torpedo and phaser arrays and as far as production goes, if they don't use it, they don't bother to mark it.

  • Seeing how the Defiant is small enough to fit inside of a starbase of sufficient size, it makes sense for it to have landing gear and exits strategically placed all over the ship for ease of access and to enable maintenance to be done.

You aren't the only person with Defiant technical issues:

Here is a quote from a Star Trek fan-site, I respect, Ex Astria Scientia and in this case agree with after reviewing dozens of official schematics as well as fan-generated ones:

The Defiant Problem:

It is hard to believe and hard to accept that there are no reliable technical specs on the Defiant, unquestionably one of the most popular starships in the Star Trek Universe. It is most unsettling that not even the ship's size is certain. Depending on what is taken as a reference, its length seems to vary between less than 50m and close to 200m. This means an uncertainty of 400% for the length and even 6400% for the volume! Since the DS9 Technical Manual with seemingly accurate deck layouts was released in 1998, the confusion is complete, for the plans conflict with the numerical size figures in the same book.

In addition to the size dilemma, there are a number of problems like the uncertain armament, the location of the impulse engines, the existence of a landing gear or the registry number of the new Defiant (ex-São Paulo NCC-75633).

My conclusions:

Using the image below they are leaving via the forward docking airlock which appears to be on the same deck or above what is labeled as the mess hall in the forward part of the ship above the deflector array. In my experience, this makes perfectly good sense and seems reasonable for a ship of this size. There should be several other easy access portals including the cargo bays, the shuttle bay hanger, the warp core section and engineering sections of the ship, the port and starboard nacelles as well as any weapon control point.

enter image description here

  • 1
    "given that the entire nose of the ship is inside the hanger bay" - what hangar bay? DS9's docking ports look like this. Do you mean the small recessed portion of the docking ring surface (or rather, the non-protruding portion)? Jul 22, 2015 at 7:34
  • @O.R.Mapper Broken image link. Feb 25, 2018 at 8:20

I think you're misunderstanding the scale of the vessel. From the available diagrams, it's quite clear that there is more than one level to the ship, and most diagrams have the main airlocks and hatches located on the 3rd deck:

Top down deck-by-deck cutaway of the Defiant, showing the two primary airlocks exactly where they ought to be, at the front of the ship on the 3rd deck. (Above in the bottom left image of the third deck, the two channels labeled "27" are the main airlocks. The navigational deflector is one deck below.)

Sideways cutaway of the Defiant, showing the airlocks in the same place.

The nav deflector at the bottom of the duck bill (on the 4th deck) doesn't pose a problem for the airlocks and main docking hatches above it, as you can see from this shot of the exterior:

Tilted head-on image of the defiant (overlayed on some schematics/diagrams) showing where the two main hatches are.

  • 1
    As mentioned in Thaddeus's answer, I don't think anyone understands the scale of the vessel...
    – Izkata
    Aug 30, 2013 at 2:11
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    The exact size is in question, but what is not in question is that a 2 meter high hatch is tiny in comparison to the vessel.
    – Jonathon
    Nov 3, 2015 at 22:57

TL;DR: Although it's not normally visible, there is an airlock exit on the front "bill" of the ship.

Despite how it may look, the front protrusion of the USS Defiant is only three (3) decks tall. The upper deck contains an airlock, which is what the crew use to board or exit the ship via DS9. The airlock hatch is fairly seamless from the outside, and therefore isn't normally visible when looking at external views of the ship. However, it is clearly visible on internal schematics:

enter image description here

As you can see from the image, the airlock is located ABOVE both the main deflector dish (the blue area visible on the front of the ship) as well as the forward torpedo launchers.


Just below the main deflector dish, there is a very, very small airlock, which is where it would dock at Deep Space 9. I found a detailed 3D version of the ship, which someone created in SketchUp, which shows this airlock. The picture below shows the airlock, surrounded by the deflector dish itself. Although, after resizing the model to actual size, one would have to crawl on all fours to get in and out of the ship, which seems to be the only way in and out, unless you are using transporter or shuttlecraft. The airlock is there, but it is not to scale to the rest of the ship.

enter image description here


this is a snippet from the cydonia 6 defiant deckplans, which gives a plausable working theory for the entrance and exit through the front main deflector area. the original plans and description cna be found here http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/cyd-defiant.php

taken from page 6

  • 1
    Please highlight the relevant part. Also, please provide a link to the source of the quote
    – Valorum
    Jul 21, 2015 at 11:44

According to the deck plans I found online I have found that on deck 3 there clearly labeled "Telescoping Docking Port/collar" at the nose of the Defiant. My only conclusion is that just above the deflector dish (Dorsal side) there are two gold rectangular shapes that I believe are doors that will hinge up when docked, then one of the telescoping docking ports will extend to the space stations airlock allowing the crew to disembark. I hope this helps.


There are two hatches(airlocks),full size walk through in the main hull behind the main deflector pod.It is wrongly called warhead pod, The single forward firing torpedo launcher is mounted in bottom of the pod firing through the bottom of the main deflector. It is a complete automatic operated launcher with 25 reloads.

The four massive phaser cannons are mounted above and below the warp engine sponsons ,they bleed high particle energized pulses off the warp engines and fire them.Lots of energy,radiation and power, Human crewmen constantly adjust maintain the these cannons.In the show they show parts of them as they wear out and are replaced.

ALso in the dorsal and ventral(top/bottom) of the hull behind the bridge/shuttle bay hanger are two separate standard phaser arrays.(standard beams) to provide firepower to cover the angles of the ship.

There are two rear mounted torpedo launchers rounding out the warship design.

It is but a five deck little but power ship.

  • 2
    Can you provide any references for this?
    – Adamant
    Nov 12, 2016 at 7:09
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    In what episode is the replacement of phaser cannons shown? And anyway, what does all of that weapon spec porn have to do with the question where th docking hatch(es) is/are concretely located? Nov 12, 2016 at 23:36
  • @O.R.Mapper It's not the weapons themselves that are replaced, but some component whose name escapes me. There's a scene where they bring one into the mess hall and put it on a rack beside a collection of other ones.
    – T.J.L.
    Apr 16, 2018 at 15:54

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