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On Starfleet vessels, Jefferies tubes are internal maintenance conduits that are used to provide crew access to various ship's systems. In emergencies they're also used for moving around the ship if turbolifts are not functional. Doors within the Jefferies tubes can be sealed for safety or security reasons. It should be noted that on all ship displays of internal structure Jefferies tubes are not displayed, and in some cases show no sign where they could actually fit within the ship. During the 22nd and 23rd century, Jefferies tubes were usually referred to as access tubes, access tunnels or service chutes. It wasn't until the 24th century that their official name was firmly established, though some officers referred to them as "service crawl-ways" (TNG: "Disaster").

Jefferies tubes can also be used for fitness training exercises. (VOY: "Learning Curve")

Geordi La Forge sarcastically remarked about Starfleet engineers claiming Jefferies tubes being "easy access." (TNG: "Power Play")

22nd century Edit

Jefferies tube sweet spot

The entrance of a Jefferies tube aboard an NX-class starship

During the 22nd century, starships were outfitted with long and small service tunnels what would later be known as Jefferies tubes. They were hard, cold, cramped and poorly lit. Tunnels on some ships joined at the variable gravity "sweet spot." (ENT: "Broken Bow")

Vertical tubes Edit

NX-01 vertical access tunnel

A vertical tube (2150s)

The NX ships had vertical tubes to help their crew manually reach decks above them or below them. These tubes were circular from one end to the other. Each tube was equipped with a single one-way ladder for crewmen to climb or descend. The ladders had dim lights behind them so the crew could see where to step.

Horizontal tubes Edit

NX-01 horizontal access tunnel

A horizontal tube (2150s)

The horizontal tunnels were not very different from the vertical ones. They were also circular and narrow. Crewmen had to bend their knees and crouch down at a bent posture while walking inside these specific tubes. A majority of the tube's space was filled with long and thick engineering pipes that went from one end to the other. These tubes were lit from the floor so a person could follow a path.

23rd century Edit

Scotty JefferiesTube

The inside of a Jefferies tube aboard a Constitution-class starship

In the 23rd century Jefferies tubes were still round and small, but they were better lit and weren't just a means to get around. They served many different functions and purposes. It was not uncommon to find many technicians and engineers tinkering inside them.

Diagonal tubes Edit

Jefferies tube access port, Charlie X

The entrance to a Jefferies tube

Many diagonal tubes were scattered all throughout starships. These tubes were always densely connected with important system controls, relays, various conduits and vital engineering circuits. Some of these tubes led to crawl-way junctions, while some even continued on inside a nacelle pylon to one of the ship's actual warp nacelles. At the entrance of each tube were two red bars so a crewman could pull him or herself inside. A soft, yet strong light was always emitted from the top and filled the entire tube. Certain tubes had multiple functions, while others had single functions like the tubes which were only designated engineering circuit bays. Each diagonal tube was equipped with stairs for crewmen to walk up or down. (TOS: "Charlie X", "The Doomsday Machine", "Journey to Babel"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II").

Matt Jefferies original sketch called this diagonal tube a "Power Shaft". [1]


Vertical tubes Edit

Jefferies tube, vertical

A vertical Jefferies tube (2260s)

The vertical tubes on a starship, also known as gangways, allowed manual access to decks both above and below. These particular tubes were easily accessible in the open hallway alcoves located on every deck. On the walls of these tubes there was a reflective material that perfectly illuminated the entire tunnel. The tubes were equipped with a single "three-way ladder" to allow more than one crewman to climb or descend. (TOS: "Amok Time")

In the Star Fleet Technical Manual and Star Trek Blueprints, Franz Joseph referred to the space as a "gangway".

A ladder is visible aboard the alternate reality's USS Enterprise when Spock walks down a corridor after being relieved of duty as acting captain. (Star Trek)

Horizontal tubes Edit

MARA access tube

A horizontal Jefferies tube (2260s)

23rd Century Service Crawlway

A horizontal Jefferies tube aboard a refit Constitution-class starship (2280s)

The horizontal crawl-ways on starships allowed manual access to various parts of a starship. These tubes were also densely connected with important system controls and vital engineering circuits. Some of these tubes even led to the matter-antimatter reaction chamber. Every few feet, a bright light could be found shining down. Crewmen usually had to crawl while traveling in some of them due to the cramped size. Other horizontal tubes were still cramped, but crewmen could still walk freely up straight in posture. This was especially true late in the 23rd century. Late in the 23rd century, the horizontal tubes were extremely well lit with lights coming from both above and below. (TOS: "That Which Survives"; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Tube junctions Edit

Constitution class jefferies tube junction

Jefferies tube junction crawl-way (2260s)

On a starship, the Jefferies tubes had junction service crawl-ways. They served as interconnected points linking all the different tubes. On Constitution-class vessels, these junctions also gave access to critical starship systems like plasma flow regulators and warp and power relays. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

24th century Edit

Sovereign class jefferies tube

The inside of a Jefferies tube aboard a Sovereign-class starship

During the 24th century, Jefferies tubes became more simple, less intricate, and not as thoroughly filled with vital systems.

Vertical tubes Edit

USS Defiant vertical Jefferies tube

A standard 24th century vertical tube aboard a starship (2370s)

The vertical tubes on starships allowed manual access to decks both above and below, which were labeled inside these particular tubes. Dim lights were located behind the main ladder and other lights were found on every deck. These tubes were equipped with a single one-way ladder for crewmen to climb or descend.

Horizontal tubes Edit

Jefferies tube, mid-24th century

A standard mid-24th century horizontal tube aboard a Galaxy-class starship

Jefferies tube, Sovereign class

A horizontal tube aboard a Sovereign-class starship in the late-24th century

The horizontal crawlways on starships allowed manual access to various vital parts of a ship or station. Dim lights were located near the floor and on each side of the tube. Crewmen usually had to crawl while traveling in them due to the cramped size. Inside these tubes were removable panels to important system conduits and engineering controls.

Tube junctions Edit

Jefferies tube junction

A 24th century tube junction (2370s)

On 24th century starships, all Jefferies tubes had junction service rooms. They served as interconnected points linking all the different tubes. Every room had exposed conduits on the walls, sometimes with panels to access various power conduits or relays.

According to Nella Daren, the fourth intersect of Jefferies tube twenty-five was the most acoustically perfect spot on the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "Lessons")

Appendices Edit

Appearances Edit

Background information Edit

USS Defiant TOS Jefferies tube

The innovative three-way ladder was never seen again

The Jefferies tubes were named in honor of its designer Matt Jefferies, also the designer of the original USS Enterprise and the Art Director of Star Trek: The Original Series. (Star Trek Encyclopedia) The name was originally an in-joke, already in use during the production of the Original Series, but only came to be canonically mentioned on a number of occasions in the later Star Trek: The Next Generation television series, the first time in that series' third season episode, "The Hunted". Jefferies himself had indicated, "Somebody hung the name Jefferies Tube on it. It wasn't me, but the name stuck and I used it in some of my sketches!" (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 72) Set Designer John Jefferies, the younger brother to Matt and who, with his team, had to build his brother's design, recalled the construction of the Original Series Jefferies tube, "It was the only part of that set that was moved on [note: meaning it was a mobile set, mounted on rollers], that was on an incline, and it was made out of a Sona Tube that we cut and expanded a little bit. Sona Tubes were large cardboard tubes that could be purchased. They were used for forming concrete and we would buy these in either eight- or ten-foot lengths and they came in many varying diameters. They ran about a half an inch thick and they were wrapped cardboard. Well, we found these marvelous for pieces of set and curved walls, because they were quick." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier")

The access tubes have changed appearance many times in the past forty years, while still maintaining their basic function for both the series and films. The tubes were commonly used as a last minute deus ex machina, whether it was a relay circuit inside that needed to be repaired, or a straightforward means of physical escape.

The most unusual variation of the Jefferies tube was a vertical tube shown in the original Star Trek series. This access tube had a "three-way" ladder that allowed three people to climb simultaneously. This was no doubt convenient during red alert when crewmen needed to get to battle stations quickly. Unfortunately, this concept was never expanded upon, so we never saw a four, or even a six sided hexagon-shaped ladder. Instead, the Jefferies tubes ladders in the 24th century were only capable of supporting one individual.

Enterprise lieutenant with trident scanner

GNDN #435

An in-joke reportedly appearing in the Jefferies tube sets on the original Star Trek series (although written so small as to be invisible to the audience) are labels on the pipes marked "GNDN". This stands for "Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing." The marking also appeared on various sets for the Star Trek films.

Traditionally, Jefferies tubes were cramped crawling spaces, but in the last movie set in the prime universe, Star Trek Nemesis, a particular spacious one was featured, as Star trek archivist Penny Juday has explained in 2002, "The Jefferies tube is used even today. The last feature is an example, where she took the Jefferies tube and made it really big. That's where you see the Viceroy and you see Commander Riker fighting together, is inside a larger version of the Jefferies tube. So, Herman Zimmerman has made sure that the name sticks, and he has always idolized Matt and his work. And he has always tried to incorporate Matt's work and designs and to make sure that the theme is carried on into the new TV series and all of the features. Almost all the time - not in every episode of course - but when we need a crawl space, that's exactly what we use; It's always called a Jefferies tube." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier") The canonization of the term "Jefferies tube" however, befell to Zimmerman's successor, Richard James, to implement in the aforementioned episode "The Hunted".

See also Edit

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