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» Flare Sci-Fi Forums » Star Trek » Starships & Technology » NX-01???? The registry number dance continues. (Page 3)

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Author Topic: NX-01???? The registry number dance continues.
Ryan McReynolds
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Originally posted by Daniel:
But what about Holmes's Razor?

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Does that apply here? (Honest question, not being sarcastic or anything.)

No, that doesn't apply anywhere, at least not in the scientific method (which I try to use at all times). If you've eliminated the impossible, you can still have numerous competing theories remaining. There isn't alwasy one possible solution to a problem, though there's only one correct one. Furthermore, if the only theory left is highly improbable you probably just haven't thought of all of them yet.

-=Ryan McReynolds=-

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Oh. Well it worked in Star Trek. By the "real-world history of registries" do you mean as in US, British and other naval registry systems, a la USS Enteprise, CVAN/CVN 65 and whatnot? (Which, BTW, is celebrating 40 years in service this year.)

"A celibate clergy is an especially good idea because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism."

-Eleanor Arroway, "Contact" by Carl Sagan

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*heh* Judging from the responses, that's my cue...

Correct on the prefix story, but let me elaborate. Matt Jeffries (from here on out referred to as 'Matt') started with the 'NC' of American civilan aviation codes, added another 'C' just cuz, and later found out that the civilian aviation code for the Soviet Union was 'CCC' and thought it was a cool symbolism in unintentionally melding the two.

The numbers came from eliminating any numerals that might be unclear onscreen -- 3, 8, 5, 2, 6, 9. He fiddled with the remaining options in various permutations until he decided '1701' was as good as any.

Matt was also the first to come up with a meaning behind the prefix and the hull number. As his notes indicate, 'NCC' he thought would be a good prefix for Starfleet's Cruisers or Heavy Cruisers. The meaning of the number he noodled up as indicating Starfleet's 17th Cruiser or Heavy Cruiser design, and the 01st production hull built after the prototype (NCC-1700). The first major refit would be denoted by altering the registry to NCC-1701A (no second dash).

This is what he was going from when he created the infamous wall chart for "Court Martial" (TOS 15). Those 16XX registries were intended to be the immediate predacessor Cruiser design before the Constitution class, which fandom and the novels later denoted Baton Rouge class. This is what he was going from when he created the displays for Khan to be reading in "Space Seed" (TOS 24). And it might have remained thus throughout the series were it not for "The Doomsday Machine" (TOS 35). Lazy modelmakers trashed an off-the-shelf AMT model kit to make the U.S.S. Constellation, rearranged the decals to make the ship 'NCC-1017', and it got on the air that way. They didn't stop to think that maybe the number used for the Enterprise might have some significance. They didn't ask the ship's designer what he thought the Constellation's registry ought to be. Which is a real pity, or else they might have made her 'NCC-1710'. Or even -- had they splurged for a second kit or decal sheet -- 1707, 1711, 1717, or 1771. I sigh and shake my head when I think they might even have made it the Constitution at NCC-1700... But oh, well.

It was during this second season that a very troublesome book was published called "The Making of Star Trek". I call it troublesome because Stephen Whitfield's approach leaves me baffled. And I can't ask the man about why he did things the way he did because he's dead. Near as I can tell, although he consulted with the entire crew, when it came to Matt Jeffries, he only included those bits pertaining to the Enterprise's exterior, plus the bridge set. No references are given for any of the other technical stuff he spews forth, from the internal layout of the Enterprise to the composition of the crew to the listing of "Sharship class" vessels. Big for instance... Matt Jeffries was opposed to a massive engine room, but Gene insisted, so Matt designed the Main Engineering set. He fully intended it to be below decks in the secondary hull, and Gene seems to have been of this opinion, as well. So where Mr. Whitfield came up with the saucer placement for Main Engineering is utterly unknown to me. 'Nother big for instance... At one point, Mr. Whitfield clearly states the final list of "Starship class" vessels (meaning what we know as Constitution-class), and includes the Valiant -- despite the fact that elsewhere in the chapter he cites the class as being roughly forty yeas old and basic research should have pointed out this flaw, the Republic -- despite the fact that nothing in the episode gave even the slightest hint that the Republic was Constitution-class, and the Farragut -- same as the Republic, but this time not even a registry number was given. Unfortunately, this book was used as the primary source of information by a gentleman who made probably the biggest contribution to Treknical fandom ever, even if he was, in retrospect, wildy inaccurate about a great many things. Enter Franz Joseph...

[End of Part I; Part II follows after I eat something]


"That's what I like about these high school girls, I keep getting older, they stay the same age."

--David "Woody" Wooderson, Dazed and Confused

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According to your information, you stated that Matt Jeffries envisioned each cruiser class starting at every hundred mark. If this is true, then there were three cruiser designs at M-11 (Starbase 11). Just maybe, this may help explain the J starship class. Let's see.

0-100 'A' Class
100-200 'B' Class
200-300 'C' Class
300-400 'D' Class
400-500 'E' Class
500-600 'F' Class
600-700 'G' Class
700-800 'H' Class
800-900 'I' Class
900-1000 'J' Class
1000-1100 'K' Class
1100-1200 'L' Class
1200-1300 'M' Class
1300-1400 'N' Class
1400-1500 'O' Class
1500-1600 'P' Class
1600-1700 'Q' Class
1700-1800 'R' Class
1800-1900 'S' Class

Looking at the above, I think that I can deduce the following.

U.S.S. Archon and U.S.S. Horizon, which are identified in their respective episodes as appearing 100 years earlier, could be either 'A' or 'B'.

The unknown 'J' class starship, which is seen as old and is used for training cadets, is the next oldest known starship.

The U.S.S. Constellation, with its inadvertent registry of NCC-1017, is a 'K' class starship.

The U.S.S. Republic is a 'N' class starship.

In "Court Martial", we have ships of the 'Q', 'R', and 'S' classes. If the U.S.S. Intrepid is a ship like the U.S.S. Enterprise, then of the two upper registries, she could only be NCC-1709.

"Tomorrow is Yesterday" has given us this information: there are twelve ships like the U.S.S. Enterprise. I count this number as 13-Enterprise and 12 others. We have the registries of NCC-1700, NCC-1701, NCC-1703, NCC-1709, and NCC-1718. This is a total of six ships. Seven ships are missing.

I omitted the Valiant and the Carolina for these ships are not treated as starships. They could be scouts.

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[Part II]

Franz Joseph was a darn good aerospace draftsman, and quite good at technical things, but he wasn't a Trekkie. He did the Technical Manual and the deckplans as both an intellectual exercise and as a favor to his daughter (she was the Trekkie).

As I said in Part I, most of the information he went from was taken from "The Making of Star Trek", supplemented by stills he and his daughter acquired from Lincoln Enterprises. He did see a few episodes in reruns, but they don't seem to have had much of an impact on the final result.

When he decided to actually publish, he sought out Gene Roddenberry to clear everything. Lord only knows why -- when it came to technical things, Gene was a duffer at best. Gene Roddenberry was a writer and a producer. He had a feel for what worked and wat didn't when it came to technical things, but it wasn't always accurate. And forget about asking Gene for the answer to a technical question. Many know the story of how he was asked how Stardates work, and he pulled an answer out of his ass on the spot, an answer that sounds cool but is utter nonsense.

If FJ had thought to track down the guy who actually designed the Enterprise -- inside and out -- many of the problems with those two pieces of work probably would have been nipped before they had a chance to make it into print.

In no particular order:
Enterprise exteriors were based on the drawings in "The Making of Star Trek", not on the actual model that was built, resulting in numerous detail errors.
•As evidence that FJ never actually sat down and watched the best source of material for the Enterprise -- the show -- many things are left out (like the matter/antimatter service crawlway seen in "That Which Survives"), and many more things are screwed up (like the armament, detailed next).
•Dialogue and visuals throughout the series placed main phasers (banks one through four) and six forward photon torpedo tubes in the forward ventral saucer. FJ gave us one bank of two phasers there, and placed two torpedo tubes (!) in the bridge superstructure. All references to midships and aft phasers or aft torpedoes were utterly missed and therefore left off.

There's more, but you get the idea...

Now we get to the relevent stuff. As additional fallout from his failure to talk to Matt Jeffries, FJ then proceeded to give us a larger view of the fleet than what we saw in the series. First of all, though, he made 'NCC' a blanket prefix for Starfleet as a whole, and assigned a literal meaning to the letters.

Then he did something that has had massive repercussions down through the entire period of Treknical fandom all the way up to the present. He gave us four new ship classes with widely varying registry blocks, and he never explained his reasoning. He didn't give any sort of guide to those who would come after, explaining why he did things the way he did -- the significance of giving the Hermes class registries way down there in the ~600 range, while the Ptolemy class was all the way up in the 3800s -- or give some hints as to how to assign registry blocks to later classes. The only source of non-chronological registries seems to be Franz Joseph's Technical Manual, but it's formed the basis for a whole school of thought on the matter.

As a side note, at about the same time, a Star Trek fan named Greg Jein wrote an article for a fanzine called "T-Negative" where he assigned all the numbers on the "Court Martial" chart to the Constitution-class ships known to exist at that point, in his reasoning. The method he used is not based on scientific method in the least. After eliminating 1700 and 1701, he did a one-for-one matchup by putting the names of the remaining ships in reverse alphabetical order and starting at the top of the chart. It didn't really catch on, given the popularity enjoyed by Franz Joseph's works, but remember it. It'll become relelvent very quickly.

Some years later there was a falling out between Gene and FJ, due in the main to a breakdown in communication. Bad feelings all round, but Gene was the one who controlled Star Trek (more or less). This is about the time that Gene came up with his "Rules of Starship Design" that so coincidentally invalidated all four of the ship classes that FJ had created. He also told Paramount's marketing department that FJ's works were unofficial, and that future liscensees should not go from them.

Thus, in the mid-80s when FASA got the liscense to do a role-playing game based on Star Trek, their Constitution-class registries matched FJ's list in only one instance*, and that was probably an accident (the U.S.S. Kongo at NCC-1710). Over half of their canon starships' registries were actually taken from Greg Jein's T-Negative list.

Now we come to 1985. A Hawaiian Star Trek fan who also happens to be an advertising artist sends some sample displays in to Paramount and gets hired as the new scenic artist for Star Trek IV. His name is Michael Okuda.

Over the next couple years, he starts working closely with Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek: The Next Generation. He knows nothing of the history between Gene and Franz Joseph. He just knows the Great Bird of the Galaxy is telling him the "Rules of Starship Design" and that FJ's works are invlaid sources. So when the time comes for him to create a listing of Constitution-class ships, he starts with the known ones (1700, 1701, 1017, and 1371**). Then he uses Greg Jein's list for the remaining known canon ships up to that point (Mike didn't include the Eagle and the Endeavour until Star Trek VI). Then he fills in the gaps with FASA's list, since they still had their liscense at that point. The only one he seems to have made up whole cloth is the Potemkin.

So that's why things are the way they are. A whole lot of lack of communication, with a little stubbornness thrown in for flavor, on the parts of all but Mike, who thought he was doing the right thing, and Matt, who started all of it and was promptly ignored by those who came after. The lack of good research on the parts of Stephen Whitfield and Franz Joseph (and by extension, Greg Jein), coupled with the lack of professionalism on the part of Gene through all of this (and by extension, FASA and Mike Okuda) have left us in a nasty place today as far as registries go.

I find it a real pity Matt never widely publicized his system and the reasoning behind it. His makes the most sense of anything out there...


*Apart from 1017, 1700, and 1701, duh...
**Mike, too, adopted the baseless idea that the Republic was Constitution-class...

"That's what I like about these high school girls, I keep getting older, they stay the same age."

--David "Woody" Wooderson, Dazed and Confused

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Fullmetal Pompatus
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Thank for that story, Peregrinus. I've always wondered about the confusion that seems to come from the early history of Star Trek. Now I know. Strangely enough, I really like the way Matt Jefferies decided to have the registry system work.

Having NCC reserved for just heavy cruisers makes sense because that's a good deal how the US naval system works (sorry, everyone who's not from the US. It's the only system I'm familiar with). Carriers are CVN/CVAN's and submarines are SSN's and so on. The significance of the number (17th line of cruisers, 1st production model) also seems like a logical way of numbering the ships. The only problem I guess is if a particular line exceeds 100 ships. Would they just makes a couple changes in the design and start the next line of ships?

I guess the big question now is why didn't anyone you subsequently follow Jefferies in the position of following the registries know that he had set the system up like this? Did his notes get lost or did no one ever think of calling him up and asking?

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From what I've turned up, no one ever thought of calling him to ask. Everyone turns to Gene to get the rules, but he didn't know what Matt had come up with. I'm willing to bet everything I make in the next decade that when FJ asked Gene about the registry issue (if he did...), Gene just waved his hand dismissively and said, "It doesn't really mean anything -- do what you want". That seems to be pretty much what Gene told Mike Okuda.

As for production numbers exceeding 100 ships... Remember, at the time, Starfleet was damn proud of having built ~15 Constitutions. While some of the smaller ships may have been more numerous, I don't think Matt intended Starfleet to be so mass-production as later stuff hints at. I certainly don't.

In my separate file on a "perfect" Starfleet, I've slotted the U.S.S. Daedalus in at NCC-100, with NCC-01 through NCC-99 assigned to pre-Federation holdover ships from the various planetary navies (Earth, Andor, Vulcan, Tellar, etc...), incorporated to bolster Starfleet's initial numbers. NCC-1000 is the Horizon class. NCC-1300 is the Archon class. NCC-1600 is the Baton Rouge class. NCC-1700 is the Constitution class. NCC-1800 is the Miranda class*. NCC-1900 is the Soyuz class. NCC-2000 is the Excelsior class. NCC-2100 is the Federation class. NCC-2500 is the Belknap class. Those all give me rough guidelines for pacing and slotting in other classes. I haven't projected much beyond the turn of the 24th Century yet, though, so don't ask me about Ambassadors or Galaxys or whatnot...


P.S. Is it too late for a retcon...?

*I agree with the DS9 TM's assessment that the Miranda class is a Cruiser and not a Frigate. It has roughly the same interior volume as the Constitution class, and proportionate armament.

[ July 13, 2001: Message edited by: Peregrinus ]

"That's what I like about these high school girls, I keep getting older, they stay the same age."

--David "Woody" Wooderson, Dazed and Confused

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That was fascinating, Perrychops.

Never mind the Phlox - Here's the Phase Pistols

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I can only hope that when Enterprise finishes, the reset button is used to fix things. I really don't like the design, and the registry makes it seem that the ship is the first Starfleet ship built.

There's more to life than just sex...there's sex with chocolate.

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True, I keep forgetting that the first 25 years of Star Trek pointed towards a smaller sized Starfleet than the last 10 years.

What's interesting, Peregrinus, is that I had the same thought about the early Federation registries. I've assumed the Federation Starfleet comes into existence with the birth of the Federation. The first thing they do is start work on the Daedalus starting at NCC-100. The first 100 numbers went to whatever large and advanced ships the founding members had to contribute to the Starfleet. However, I felt that these ships still operated in large part under the auspices of their planetary government until Starfleet is strong enough to take over the chore of guarding all of the member worlds. Sort of like when the United States was founded, the states still held onto their own militias.

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The system as envisioned by Jeffries is not in any way the system as it was realized in canon Trek. Just as all that pulled-out-of-G.R.-and-F.J.'s-asses info is invalid, so is the antiquitated info from Jeffries. In fact, the only asses from which pulled info is considered canon today belong to Mike Okuda and Greg Jein. Oh yeah, and Sternbach.

Yes, it's me again. The Mighty Monkey of Mim: Staunch defender of the official manuscripts--
-The Encyclopedias
-The Technical Manuals (not FJ's, of course)
-The Fact Files
-The Chronologies (Sort of, but only after the dates have been reworked to include the Animated Series. Still more may yet become invalidated with this new Ent series...)

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The Mighty Monkey of Mim
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Now on to the making of films!
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Wow, strangely fascinating. But I can't shake the feeling that I've just lost the use of ten million brain cells. Pereginus, if I get a B+ average in my aerospace major this fall instead of the A, I'm blaming you.

If God didn't want us to fly, he wouldn't have given us Bernoulli's Principle.

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Except of course that they are roughly chronological. 1701 is older by a century or so than 74656. That they are not always strictly so is no reason to claim that they have no order whatsoever.
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Regarding the number 1701.

I was watching Forbidden Planet recently, and I'm always tickled by how much both Lost in Space and Star Trek were "inspired" by this film. The former stole the look of the ship, right down to the flying saucer with three landing legs and a spinning lights at the base...not to mention the bubble astrogator with model ship within and the robot. The latter, well, there's a "United Planets" Cruiser, a bantering relationship between captain, exec and doctor, and the crew dematerializes in very transporter-like beams during deceleration to sublight drive.

All of this I'm sure most of you are aware of...but what really caught my attention this time around was the second line of dialogue in the film (not counting the opening narration), which goes...

"Ship on course, sir. We'll reach D.C. point at 1701." (spoken "seventeen oh one")

1701. Amazing that of all the numbers they could have used, it's THAT one. And if he'd quoting a "military time", there were 1439 other possible hour:minute combinations they could have chosen. Nope. 1701.

Funny, no?

"Well, I mean, it's generally understood that, of all of the people in the world, Mike Nelson is the best." -- ULTRA MAGNUS, steadfast in curmudgeon

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