Definitions

canon-ship

Starfleet ship registry and classes in Star Trek

The fictional universe of the Star Trek science fiction franchise included a large number of starships, some of which were regular settings while others made only brief appearances. Many Starfleet vessels follow various standard designs or ship classes.

Starfleet starships are identified by a unique registry consisting of a two- or three-letter prefix, a string of digits, and, in some instances, a one-letter suffix. The combination is also called a ship's registry number despite the presence of letters. The most well-known registry among Star Trek fans is "NCC-1701", which belongs to the original USS Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk. All subsequent Enterprises used the same registry with a suffix of A-E (with -J being seen in Star Trek Enterprise,) denoting each vessel in chronological order.

Use

Registry numbers are painted on a starship's hull. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds", Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Shelby identifies ships destroyed by the Borg based on their hull markings. In other episodes, such as TNG's "The Wounded", ships are instead identified via a transponder.

In "The Wounded", Star Trek Nemesis and other instances, computer displays represent a ship's position with an icon for its affiliated organization (e.g. a Starfleet shield) next to both the ship's name and its registry number.

Prefixes

NCC

"NCC" is the most common registry prefix, used by almost every known Starfleet vessel in the franchise. The prefix first appears in Star Trek: The Original Series and was created by designer Matt Jefferies. The Star Trek Encyclopedia says:

NCC doesn't stand for anything. It was devised by Matt Jefferies, art director of the first Star Trek series. Jefferies, who is a pilot, based NCC on 20th century aircraft registration codes. In such 20th century usage, an "N" first letter refers to an aircraft registered in the USA. A "C" second letter refers to a civil aircraft. Jefferies added a second "C", just because he thought it looked better. Think of it as being like the arbitrary three-letter code that's part of automobile license plate numbers in many states.

Jefferies attributed the extra "C" to a combination of the US aviation code "NC", and the Soviet equivalent "CC CC".

In The Original Series, the only registries seen on a ship's hull are for vessels of the same class as the Enterprise. Jeffries chose "1701" for legibility at a distance, rationalising it as being the 1st ship of the 17th design.

According to non-canon print sources, "NCC" is short for "Naval Construction Code" or "Naval Construction Contract".

NX

Three ships which were the first of their class seen on screen have a registry beginning with "NX".

The first of these is the USS Excelsior, which first appears in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, with the registry "NX-2000". It is the first of the new Excelsior class. By the time of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it is seen in active duty, with the registry "NCC-2000".

The USS Defiant is the first of a class designed to fight the Borg. Although the ship sees extensive service before and during the Dominion War, it never loses the "NX" in its registry, even though other ships of its class bear "NCC" registries (e.g. the NCC-74210 for the USS Valiant and NCC-75633 for the USS São Paulo).

The experimental USS Prometheus has the registry number "NX-59650". However the registry on all the internal displays and the ship's dedication plaque is stated as "NX-74913".

The USS Dauntless, a ship made to look like a Federation starship, has the registry NX-01A in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Hope and Fear".

The non-canon Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual claims that the USS Galaxy is the first of the Galaxy class, and gives its registry as NX-70637. A Galaxy-class USS Galaxy is later seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with the registry NCC-70637.

NX class

A significant use of "NX" is in "NX-01": the registry for the centerpiece of the titular starship in Star Trek: Enterprise. However, in that series, "NX" is not the designation for an experimental starship; rather, it indicates the vessel's class. The NX-01 is an NX class starship in the same way that some starships in "later" series are Constitution or Excelsior class vessels.

Other prefixes

A handful of other prefixes sporadically appear in various Star Trek series.
Registry Name Class Role
NV-01 Intrepid NV Earth starship
NAR-18834 SS Vico Oberth Federation research vessel
NAR-32450 USS Raven Unknown Federation research vessel
NCV-474439-G USS Relativity Wells Starfleet time ship
NDT-50863 SS Milan Unknown Starfleet transport
NFT-1327 SS Lakul Whorfin Federation transport
NFT-7793 SS Robert Fox Whorfin Federation transport
NGL-12535 SS Odin Unknown Federation freighter
NSP-17938 SS T'Pau Unknown Vulcan transport
NCX-3001 USS Proxima Proxima Refit Federation Battleship

Numbers

Whereas the majority of known starships share the "NCC" prefix, the digits following that prefix (separated from it by a hyphen) are, with few exceptions, unique to each known vessel.

Two freighters in the non-canon animated series have the only two registries known to mix letters with the registry's digits: an unnamed robot freighter ("NCC-G1465) and the USS Huron ("NCC-F1513).

Star Trek: Enterprise era

Only two Earth Starfleet ships' registries are legibile on screen: "NX-01" for the Enterprise and "NX-02" for the Columbia.

Between Enterprise and The Original Series

Few episodes refer to ships from this era and fewer still reveal those ships' registry numbers. The only firmly established registry number in this era is "NCC-173" for the USS Essex. The Star Trek Encyclopedia claims that the USS Archon, mentioned but not seen in "The Return of the Archons", has the registry "NCC-189".

The Original Series and TOS film era

Most starships seen or mentioned in The Original Series have four-digit registry numbers beginning with "16", "17" or "18". One exception is the "NCC-1017" registry for the USS Constellation: the show's modelmakers used an old Enterprise model and simply rearranged the registry numbering. Because the USS Constitution's registry number is "NCC-1700", the Constellation's number is an inconsistency to the pattern of the first ship in a class having the lowest registry number among ships of that class.

Two of the major Starfleet vessels introduced in the TOS-era films – the USS Reliant and USS Excelsior – also have four-digit registries: "NCC-1864" and "NX-2000" (later "NCC-2000"), respectively. Other vessels generally follow this pattern, although there are a few vessels with three-digit registries. The most obvious one is the use of "NCC-638" for the USS Grissom. Other examples include "NCC-621" and "NCC-595" for the scouts Columbia and Revere, respectively. In the Remastered version of "Star Trek" currently on air, the episode "Charlie X" visually features the cargo vessel "Antares" with the registry NCC-501 upon its hull, although the registry prior to the remastering was never seen or mentioned in the original episode.

The Next Generation et al. era

Starfleet ships in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager generally use five-digit registry numbers. The most frequently seen "guest" ships are Excelsior class starships whose registries range from the USS Berlin's "NCC-14232" to the USS Crazy Horse's "NCC-50446". Most vessel registries in The Next Generation fall within this range. Registry numbers in the 60000s and 70000s are more common in Deep Space Nine (featuring the "NX-74205" and "NCC-75633" USS Defiants) and Voyager (featuring the titular NCC-74656).

Beyond TNG

The time ship USS Relativity from the 29th century has the six-digit registry "NCV-474439-G".

Suffixes

In Star Trek canon, the addition of a one-letter suffix to the registry is most notably used by successors of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

USS Enterprises

Starfleet reuses the original Enterprise's "NCC-1701" registry with each newly commissioned Enterprise, differentiating between vessels by affixing a letter to the end; "NCC-1701-E" is the registry for the sixth starship Enterprise to carry "NCC-1701" as part of its registry. These Enterprises are generally differentiated by referring to them as, for example, "the Enterprise-B" for the NCC-1701-B or "the Enterprise-C" for the NCC-1701-C. When facing the destruction of the Enterprise-E, Captain Jean-Luc Picard quips that Starfleet will likely build another Enterprise because there are "plenty of letters left in the alphabet". Although not canon, an Enterprise-F appears in two Star Trek novels. An Enterprise-J serves in an alternate timeline's 26th century.

USS Excaliburs (non-canon)

After the destruction of the Ambassador-class USS Excalibur (NCC-26517) in Peter David's best-selling non-canon New Frontier series, Starfleet commissions a Galaxy class Excalibur with the registry "NCC-26517-A".

USS Relativity

The 29th century time ship USS Relativity has the registry NCV-474439-G. Following the pattern used with the Enterprises, this suggests that the Relativity is the eighth ship to carry the name. However, the vessel's dedication plaque indicates that it is the seventh Relativity.

USS Yamato (error)

Commander William Riker reads the registry of a phantom USS Yamato as "NCC-1305-E". However, this conflicts with the shooting model, which bears the registry "NCC-71807" in both this and a subsequent appearance. Despite the dialogue, "NCC-71807" is the correct registry number.

Classes

Federation class

The Federation-class dreadnought is a non-canon ship type first posited by Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. The Federation-class is similar to the Constitution-class, but has an additional nacelle. According to the scale presented in the Manual, it is also somewhat larger, with armament and a rear-facing "sensor dish" (note that the navigational deflector is labeled as a sensor dish in the Manual) on the secondary hull. Odd-nacelled designs are rarely seen on screen: the one-nacelled Freedom-class appears as a wreck, and the Enterprise-D has been fitted with a third nacelle in the possible future shown in "All Good Things...".

At the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Dreadnought Entente, NCC-2120 is mentioned in radio chatter, matching the name and registry for one of the Federation-class ships given by Joseph. A picture of the Joseph's class appears on a computer screen in Star Trek II.

Diane Carey's novel Dreadnought! heavily features the three-nacelled, Federation dreadnought the USS Star Empire. Its registry disagrees with that given by Joseph (as does the claim that is it the class prototype: Joseph gives this as the USS Federation NCC-2100).

The Star Fleet Battles gaming universe presents the dreadnought as 50% larger than the heavy cruiser (Constitution and Enterprise classes) but it has little increase in firepower and is not up to par with the dreadnoughts of other races. Its justification is mostly as a command ship in fleet operations but is eventually phased out in favor of the battlecruiser classes (represented by the Excelsior class cruisers).

Along with the Saladin class ships, the Federation class can be seen at various intervals throughout the simulator of the Enterprise bridge in The Wrath of Khan, displayed in a schematic view on various displays.

Luna class

The USS Titan is described in the books as being a Luna-class starship, which entered service in the late 24th century. This class of starships was originally conceived in 2369 by Starfleet engineer, Dr. Xin Ra-Havreii. Dr. Ra-Havreii was motivated by the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole that year and so the Luna class was originally designed to explore planets in the Gamma quadrant. The advent of the Dominion War caused Starfleet to shelve the plans for these exploratory vessels in favor of more heavily-armed starships. With the end of the war, Starfleet re-evaluated the Luna-class plans and decided to proceed with the project. Initially, 12 ships were ordered, and all were completed by 2379. These vessels have been compared to the Constitution-class starships of the previous century, which carried out similar roles.

The Luna class vessels carry a medium armanent, sufficient to defend themselves in many situations, but not as well armed as the larger Galaxy and Sovereign classes, nor the similarly sized but more combat-oriented Akira-class. As with most starships, Luna class ships are not designed for atmospheric operations or combat but carry a complement of 8 shuttles of differing specification which are capable of operations in or out of planetary atmospheres. Additionally, as with some other Starfleet ship classes, the Luna class ships include a "captain's yacht," a larger and more luxurious vessel than typical shuttlecraft for the express use of the vessel's commanding officer.

The Luna class starship design is typical of several others of the same time period. One of the main differences to other ships is the addition of a smaller secondary saucer at the dorsal aft of the main saucer. Also, the nacelle configuration, unlike the one of such ships as the USS Enterprise, is placed at the underside, with the support struts pointed down for a more streamlined ship.

In real life, the Luna class was designed by Sean Tourangeau. Tourangeau entered his design into the Starship Titan Design Contest held by Simon & Schuster Inc. The competition was held in order to obtain a ship design for the Star Trek: Titan series of novels. Since the Luna design has not been featured on-screen, it is not canon, however, the Titan's mention in Star Trek Nemesis means that the existence of the ship is.

Known Luna class starships

  • USS Luna - Registry Number NCC-8010
    • The prototype for the Luna-class. The ship was destroyed by a catastrophic engine failure; before the events described in the novel "Taking Wing" of the Star Trek: Titan novel series took place.
  • USS Titan - Registry Number NCC-80102
    • The USS Titan (NCC-80102) is a Luna class starship, designed primarily for scientific discovery. Described as 450 metres long, the Titan was built with state-of-the-art science facilities as opposed to being a more tactically pronounced starship. With a complement of approximately 350 persons, the USS Titan comprises the most racially diverse crew in Starfleet, with less than 15% of the population being human, as well as a number of non-humanoid beings.
    • The USS Titan is commanded by Captain William Thomas Riker, former first officer of the USS Enterprise.
    • A full set of schematics of the USS Titan is available in the novel "Sword of Damocles" of the Star Trek: Titan novel series.
  • USS Oberon - Registry Number NCC-80103
  • USS Europa - Registry Number NCC-80104
  • USS Io - Registry Number NCC-80105
  • USS Triton - Registry Number NCC-801106
  • USS Ganymede - Registry Number NCC-80107
  • USS Amalthea - Registry Number NCC-80108
  • USS Callisto - Registry Number NCC-80109
  • USS Rhea - Registry Number NCC-80110
  • USS Charon - Registry Number NCC-80111
    • Destroyed during the novel "Sword of Damocles" of the Star Trek: Titan novel series.
  • USS Galatea - Registry Number NCC-80112

Luna-class ships not found in the Star Trek: Titan novel series.

  • USS Feeney - Registry Number Unknown
    • Class Unknown
    • Status Unknown

Norway class

In real life, the Norway class was designed by Alex Jaeger at Industrial Light and Magic and rendered as a computer-generated visual effect for Star Trek: First Contact. However, the computer files were irrevocably corrupted before they could be used again following the movie. Therefore, very little is known about the ship. In fact, the actual design of the ship is slightly controversial, as there are two known images of the ship: One in the Star Trek tech manuals, and one in the background of the movie. The only known ship is the USS Budapest.

Ptolemy class

The Ptolemy class tug is another starship that exists in the Star Fleet Technical Manual. It consists of the same saucer-shaped primary hull common to the Constitution-class cruiser, the Saladin-class destroyer and the Hermes-class scout. Two warp nacelles are attached by pylons underneath the primary hull–there is a towing plate in the center designed to carry cylindrical cargo containers where the secondary hull would be on a Constitution-class ship. These cargo pods can come in various designs, depending on what cargo needs to be moved.

This ship class makes an appearance in an "episode" of the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary computer game as the USS Masada, a starship taken over by Elasi pirates.

Saladin class

The Saladin class is a type of starship that originated in Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. Diagrams from this Technical Manual were used in bridge displays in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Technical Manual designates it is a "destroyer", and claims the first ship of this class is the USS Saladin, NCC-500. The ship has only one nacelle.

The video game Star Trek: Legacy features a starship of the same design as the Saladin but instead refers to it as Apollo class. This ship can be used during the first part of the Original Series section of the game. Later, the ship gets a restyle similar to the Enterprise-A's refit, this time with two similar warp nacelles. This version is dubbed the "Apollo-class refit."

Wells class

The Wells class is a 29th century Federation timeship class in the Star Trek: Voyager, appearing in the episode "Relativity". The episode's titular ship, the USS Relativity, is the only Wells-class ship to appear in Star Trek. The Relativity also appears in the non-canon Star Trek: New Frontier comic book, attempting to prevent Mackenzie Calhoun from changing history.

The ship has a small, single hull with warp nacelles that are pod-like in appearance. The class is named after H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine.

See also

References

Unless otherwise indicated below, registry numbers cited in the article are either clearly visible on a ship's hull or clearly spoken aloud.

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