Plus, Excelsior class nacelles are relatively small, so if the coil material is the primary limiting factor of shipbuilding, lots of Excelsior class ships might be advantageous over lots of larger ship types.
It occurred to me that we could take the number of Federation planets, multiply that by the median planet's population, and multiply that by the fraction of a planet's population that might be serving in Starfleet at any one time, then divide that by the median crew complement of a starship to get a very very rough estimate for the number of ships in service.
Say 300 planets, 1 billion average population, 0.1% in active Starfleet service, 500 crew per ship?
That works out to ... 600,000 ships, as a ballpark figure...wow.
Yeah... I think now you see where I was coming from.
suggests that there were 150 member planets in 2373 per 'First Contact,' so we can half the 600,000 to 300,000. Of course starbases and planetary facilities probably take out at least a third of that, but still
. The potential for 200,000 ships...
Doesn't 10,000 to 15,000 seem so much better now?
Interesting way of looking at it actually. The 150 member planets probably doesn't take into account the colony worlds that may still be under jurisdiction of their parent world - there's a reference to "Betazed and her outlying colonies" in a DS9 episode - and when you think about all the moons that may well be habitable or terraformed, there could be thousands of worlds in the Federation.
There's also the fact that people from non-aligned planets could join Starfleet - there were something like 17 people on the Enterprise-D from outside the Federation at one point, so the same might go for other ships.
However, with all these billions of people, you've still got the Federation facing a manpower shortage during the Dominion War (according to Vreenak), which begs the question of where they are all going. A great deal of them will be ground troops captured or killed, along with Starbase and planetary personnel, but there's still scope for a lot of men and women.
I suppose the Senator might be referring to officers more than troops in general, and of course experienced starship captains don't grow on trees. Every officer seems to go to Starfleet Academy at some point, so there probably aren't very many. It makes you wonder what Riker was doing on the Enterprise throughout the war.