Federation Registry Numbers

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Griffworks
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Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Griffworks » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:49 pm

Here’s how I figure for my corner of the Trek ‘Verse for ship Registries. As much as I appreciate and respect Greg Jein’s work on Star Trek, I do not appreciate his way of numbering the Constitution-class ships. It was based off an article he wrote back in April of 1975 and was published in the fanzine T-Negative, Issue #27.

Here’s the article, reprinted with permission, at TrekPlace:

http://www.trekplace.com/article10.html

Even Greg Jein has admitted it makes no logical sense. One of the things bugs me most is how he decided all those registry numbers belonged to Constitution-class ships.

Anyhow, in my own head canon for registries....

Anything that follows a pattern is acceptable for me, using the SFTM as the starting point. I prefer SFTM for the starting point of my own head canon because it makes sense, if only to me. It follows the basic tenant of the US Navy’s numbering system in that they build in blocks for classes of ship, tho that’s where similarities end - the USN can have different in different classes with the exact same numbers.

Also, SFTM is both Semi-canon and Canon. Semi-canon by the decals in the later 18” kits having the SFTM registry names and numbers. Canon because we see some of the ships in the Trek movies and get audio references with names and registry numbers from SFTM in ST:TMP for Columbia, Revere, Entente, and Merrimac.

For both Constellation and Republic with their registry numbers being well before that of Enterprise, I rationalize that StarFleet Command was using older names and registries of ships that were never built, or at least never completed. I came to that line of thinking when I was like 12 or so, not long after the first time I was able to look thru the SFTM of a friends mother. To my thinking, it makes more sense than having ships that were “refitted” from some completely different classes and sizes of ship design.

Anyhow, I feel that works for up to around the end of the 9000 / beginning of the 10000 series registry numbers. After that, StarFleet construction command started issuing registry numbers in blocks to shipyards, as opposed to just ship classes. SFC also worked to fill in blanks, no longer being concerned with keeping ship class names/registries in blocks. They were building so many ships that they felt this was the best way to keep it orderly by the early 2300’s.

As very loose examples:

Here’s closer to what I was thinking. StarFleet awards contracts to different shipyards for a number of a class blocks assigned to specific ships/classes.

YoYoDyne Shipyards
Miranda 2270 - 2275
Enterprise 2280 - 2290
Federation 2300 - 2310

Tycho Shipyards
Miranda 2311 - 2320
Enterprise 2321 - 2325
Federation 2326 - 2335

Griffworks Shipyards
Miranda 2336 - 2350
Enterprise 2351 - 2360
Federation 2361 - 2365

Mention has been made to Shipyards other than the San Francisco and Utopia Planitia in the Sol system. As such, I think it’s possible there were more than 100 Shipyards scattered thru-out the Federation. Possibly due to the Khitomer Peace Accords meaning that the Federation could focus on exploration, thus expanding the need for more ships. And that requires more shipyards to keep up with the demand.

Civilian ships are a different animal altogether. Other than the alpha portion starting with an N, the numbers don’t have to be as closely blocked off, IMNSHO. For my thinking on the prefix for civilian ships, I started with this article at Memory Alpha:

Registry

I don’t follow all of the registry prefixes from the article, tho don’t exactly dismiss them, either. The main prefixes I prefer are:

ECS - Earth Cargo Ships
NAR - Research Vessels
NBT - Bulk Cargo Transport
NCC - StarFleet vessels
NCL - Passenger Liner
NFT - Commercial Transport
NGA - Commercial Transport
NX - Experimental StarFleet

There are likely many more civilian and commercial ships out there than Star Fleet, as they likely include everything from privately own shuttles up to the largest passenger liners, bulk freighters, and colony ships. Previous to the founding of the Federation, I would imagine various planetary governments had their own numbering system, such as the ECS registry, and that the UFP still honors those older registries, incorporating them into their own. Some of the UFP worlds might still even follow their own registry system for private vessels and the UFP may recognize that, as well. At least, in my corner of the Star Trek 'Verse.

Anyhow, that’s my line of thinking. Curious to hear how others work it out.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by ProfArturo » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:24 pm

Didn't Matt Jeffries select 1701 for 17th design, 1st ship built, or something like that? Which I always thought made sense but of course fell apart as soon as any other ships appeared.

Other than that I just assumed the number went up by 1 everytime they built a new ship, and that's all there was to it.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Griffworks » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:33 pm

Yes, that's what Jefferies had as a part of his reasoning for the registry number. That was what I think was an after-the-fact rationalization for why he chose what he did. The Real World reasoning was that it was based off of aircraft registry numbers, plus 1701 was very easy to make out from something of a distance, so on-screen NCC-1701 would be easily identifiable as Enterprise.

However, with the "17th design, first ship", even that doesn't exactly fit in if Enterprise is a Constitution-class starship. Since the class name is Constitution, wouldn't that ship be the first ship of the design, thus be 1701? To me, it just fails the logic test.

The thinking of Constitution starting off a block of registry numbers for her class somewhat follows the Modern (starting around WWI, I think?) US Navy standard (I'm not familiar with other countries and how they number their ships) of numbering ships. The WWII battleships and carriers were mostly done in blocks of numbers, and that tradition continues with our modern ships. However, the difference is in there are several US ships that have the same numbers, tho are different classes of ships. Such as DD-598, USS Bancroft, and SSBN-598, USS George Washington. The Trek system, to my thinking, makes it more error free by a using unique numbering system for it's vessels.

Anyhow, as with all things, to each their own! We can all live with our own little bit of the Trek 'Verse.

As with all things, YMMV!
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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by ProfArturo » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:08 pm

Agreed, although am I right in thinking the Enterprise wasn't canonically labelled onscreen as 'Constitution Class' until TNG / Star Trek VI era, which would maybe explain why he thought it could be the lead ship of it's own class.

It is after all the most famous one, in universe and out.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by kobayashimaru » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:45 pm

neat!
lore-chats and fan theories are what making being a fan awesome,
and meeting folks to hear their variants, it's all great fun.

For the purposes of this response,
it is necessary to define "continuity'/"canon".
(R Barthes, S McCloud, Alan Moore, Dennett etc).
so, I hold as canon only;
ST:TOS-R, ST:TMP's (-ST:V) , ST:TNG, ST:Voy, ST:DS9 and select ST:Ent.
for the purposes of this response,
nuWarsTrek, ST:Disc and ST:TAS or things like Axanar or ST:O, are excluded.

Preamble aside;
I believe that, there are two possibilities for the nomenclature.
1st and more compelling, the NCC numbers are "Okuda-gags".
so, peoples birthdates, or numbers from the OEIS/EJC etc.

2nd, the NCC numbers are, some form of "rapid-acquisitive alpha numeric code",
of the format;
USS, SS |ShipNameOnly| NCC, NX, NCV.
USS | STEM, americana or fictional character name|

the numbers are alpha-numeric code;
|first digit| |pair| |pair| |rest|
the first digit is the Role for the vehicle.
the next pair is usually its Home Port
the next pair are Situations the ship can respond to
the final digits are "Section 31 code" or, Hazmat etc... additional code, perhaps "expect aliens" etc.

-----
What has baffled me - why, if the Federation has trillions of beings from thousands of star systems,
are all the ship-markings in English?
ie... "monkeys and typewriters" --- are there vulcan characters, etc, how many letters are in the starship registry alphabet?

Are there any forbidden strings from that 'expanded federation alphabet"
ie, starships which should formulaicly have one NCC registry, but don't due to the phonemic pronounciation of that given string? :ugeek:

if the prefix code is 6-bit, then 8bit etc... as CJ Saxton and M Wong consider,
then, how many starships are there?

Tangent Time!
Borg ship registries are remarkably similar, for folks who read Borg-ese.
its usually of the format
|Geometry| |Triplet| |Triplet| |Rest| <--- a ternary joke, Alice Krige herself alludes to this. there's a few, like the tryte 60120 etc.
Borg Tac Cube 90210 as well... :roll:

Yet, borg episodes are also some of the farthest into the future we see of the trek-universe on-screen,
outside of stuff like "All Good Things"/"Endgame" etc.

though, borg also allow hard-abutment of 0s...
there is a gap between aural and the written form...
this means that some which should be pronounced |Null| are skipped.
this can cause some issues... kinda like the difference between the Radio Operator's Phonemic Alphabet, and other IPA etc.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Tesral » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:10 am

ProfArturo wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:24 pm
Didn't Matt Jeffries select 1701 for 17th design, 1st ship built, or something like that? Which I always thought made sense but of course fell apart as soon as any other ships appeared.

Other than that I just assumed the number went up by 1 everytime they built a new ship, and that's all there was to it.
I have always heard it as Rodenberry's plane., NC-1701. They added an extra "C".
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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Captain Robert April » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:55 am

Tesral wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:10 am
ProfArturo wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:24 pm
Didn't Matt Jeffries select 1701 for 17th design, 1st ship built, or something like that? Which I always thought made sense but of course fell apart as soon as any other ships appeared.

Other than that I just assumed the number went up by 1 everytime they built a new ship, and that's all there was to it.
I have always heard it as Rodenberry's plane., NC-1701. They added an extra "C".
The general speculation was that it was based on the number of Jefferies' Waco biplane, but he didn't get that plane until well after the show wrapped.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Captain Robert April » Sun Jul 08, 2018 3:00 am

Here's what I've cooked as an explanation for inclusion in the Concordance:
STARSHIP REGISTRIES – EXPLAINED (AGAIN) !!

If there’s one thing that’s always been a major feature of human nature, it’s the innate urge to make sense of seemingly nonsensical situations. It’s the very cornerstones of science and philosophy, after all. It’s also how we got religion, conspiracy theories, and gossip columnists. Our inquisitiveness is limited only by our imagination and restraint. Unfortunately, our innate ability to recognize patterns, both real and imaginary, can often lead us down very carefully constructed, but still completely wrong, concepts.

So when we see the starship Enterprise appear on screen with the prominent registry number of NCC-1701, more than a few fans wondered just what “NCC” stood for, and began concocting all sorts of schemes to explain this mystery. “Naval Construction Contract” is one prevalent explanation, “Naval Curtis Craft” is another one that was floating around for a while, and still others can be dug up from around the internet.

The producers of Star Trek, however, didn’t feel the least bit constrained by these ideas, which is probably for the best; I’ll get to that later.

The truth of the matter is that “NCC-1701” wound up as the Enterprise’s registry number simply because it was easily readable from a distance (or, more to the point, on a television screen 19” or smaller), and really didn’t mean anything when initially worked up. The “NCC” part was inspired by the tail numbers of present day aircraft, to provide a slightly familiar touch to this futuristic spacecraft and make it clear that this is an Earth ship with folks on board that we can still relate to, while “1701” was settled on because 1, 7, and 0 are the three numerals that are the least likely to be mistaken for any other numbers, with the second 1, along with the second C, being there mainly for balance. It should noted at this point that under this system, much like other aviation abbreviations, the letters don’t necessarily correspond to what they represent; for example, N stands for the United States. Matt Jefferies did cook up some after-the-fact rationalizations for the registry, like the “NCC” represented a joint effort between the US and the Soviet Union (the whole “United Earth” concept wasn’t exactly fleshed out just yet), with “1701” representing the seventeenth starship class, first one off the line. It’s debatable just how well this scheme would’ve worked in the long run, and since nobody picked up on this idea anyway, it’s just an interesting, while nonbinding, footnote in the history of the show. In any case, at no point at this stage of the show’s development was a specific meaning for “NCC” ever devised. And since we don’t see any registries that start with anything other than “NCC” during the initial run of the original series (hereafter referred to as “TOS”), and since it’s pretty tough to establish any kind of system with only one example, we’re going to skip ahead to the animated series (hereafter referred to as “TAS”), where we encounter various freighters with more unusual registry numbers.

The USS Huron, from “The Pirates of Orion” (yes, dialogue refers to it as the “S.S. Huron”, but the name on the hull clearly says “U.S.S. Huron”, so there), sported a registry of NCC-F1913. The two robot freighters from “More Troubles, More Tribbles” had registries of NCC-G1465 and (as best as can be determined from the only scene with both freighters in the frame at the same time) NCC-G1415. All we can determine from this is that the registries are different for freighters than full-fledged starships, and freighters with crews have different registries than automated ones. An interesting start, and possibly an indication of a merchant marine service, but still not much to go on.

Let’s fast-forward to “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”, where we are first shown a Starfleet vessel with a registry other than NCC, namely the USS Excelsior, NX-2000. From the context of the scene, specifically Kirk’s description of the massive ship as “the great experiment”, it’s a pretty safe assumption that, like those aforementioned aircraft tail numbers, the X stands for “experimental”. Again, not much, but it’s another piece of the puzzle. It also shows that the folks in charge are starting to think things through a bit more, especially when the Excelsior gets a registry change to NCC-2000 in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and we see the ship well past its testing phase and is now an active duty starship.

So far, we have enough to determine that NCC means an active duty ship, NX means an experimental prototype ship, and letters mixed in with the numbers have something to do with the nature of the ship. And before you ask, the NX-01 Enterprise, along with her sister ship, NX-02 Columbia, were in the pre-Federation United Earth Starfleet, which had a very different registry system, where the letters indicated the vessel type, much like the present day US Navy.

Let’s skip ahead to “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the subsequent spinoff shows, where we really start seeing some registry diversity. We got ships like the SS Vico, with its registry of NAR-18834, and the Vulcan ship T’Pau (NSP-17938), and a pattern starts to emerge.

“N” appears to indicate a Federation-registered ship. “A” indicates a civilian vessel from Earth, while “S” would be a Vulcan registered ship, and “C” would indicate that the ship is registered with the Federation government and not to any specific planetary government, and not necessarily Starfleet. To see another piece of the puzzle, we have to jump forward a bit further to the remastered version of TOS, to “The Way To Eden”, where the space cruiser Aurora (previously a modification of the Tholian ship, now a Class J starship), has the registry of NC-17740 (not coincidentally, this was also the registry number of Matt Jefferies’ Waco biplane). Not exactly a civilian vessel, but not full fledged Starfleet, either; for that, you need that second C.

So, that gives us a clearer, if still slightly murky, picture of how the registry system works in the Federation.
First letter:

N – United Federation of Planets

Second Letter:

A – Earth specific registry
S – Vulcan specific registry
C – General Federation registry, planet not specified

Third Letter, if present:

R – Research vessel
P – Planetary defense ship
C – Commissioned Starfleet vessel

So, NCC means a Federation ship, general registry, with a Starfleet commission.

Which brings us to the numbers. Put simply, there’s a sequence in there somewhere, we’re just not privy to it. The elephant in the room in this case is the glaringly out of sequence USS Constellation NCC-1017. The real world explanation is that when the model was built (a commercially available, and immensely popular, model kit produced by AMT), the numbers on the decal sheet (at the time, the only option available was 1701) were rearranged so as to be distinctive from the Enterprise, so 1017 was settled on. Effective solution to a production issue, but it leaves us with a continuity headache, as it would imply that the Constellation is considerably older than the Enterprise, and with the class ship, Constitution, supposedly having a registry of NCC-1700, makes it a stretch to consider the Constellation a member of that class, despite the obvious intent of using an Enterprise model kit to represent her.

Fortunately, for the more obsessively detail oriented among us, there are enough proportional differences between the AMT model and the big eleven foot filming miniature to justify consigning the Constellation to an earlier, albeit very similar, starship class, thus justifying the much lower registry number. This also opens up room for the USS Republic NCC-1371 and the ill-fated USS Valiant and it’s presumed registry of NCC-1223. The only stumbling block at that point is roughly fifty years of orthodoxy that has the Constellation as a Constitution class ship, regardless of the wonky registry number. In short, there is no perfect solution.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by ProfArturo » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:43 am

Excellent write up, really good to see a working theory for the NCC.

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Re: Federation Registry Numbers

Post by Shark » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:03 pm

Yeah Jein's list was always dumb, so is Okuda's idea that the original Ent was built in 2245. No evidence or reason for it and needlessly ages the ship.

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