It may seem like crap, but I wouldn't expect them to forge a letter. Plus you do have those Defiant and Starbase 11 crewman with the Delta insignia on their uniforms. At least in the case of Starbase 11 in "Court Martial", I wouldn't expect Kirk to let members of his own crew berate him like that. So while Roddenberry might have had a the idea of insignias representing different departments in Starfleet, he apparently did a poor job of conveying this idea to production staff. Add to this the fact that neither the people working on the Animated Series or Enterprise were aware of this, so you had crewman from other starships with their own insignias (like on the Bonaventure, Huron, and the Defiant from "In a Mirror Darkly").
The only way I can rationalize this is that sometime in the early 2260s, Starfleet experimented with the idea of having the insignia not only represent your specific job, but also indicated where you worked (ie a starship, base, cargo ship, etc.) But around the same time, it was also decided that the crews of each Constitution class vessel would receive uniforms with a unique insignia, to commemorate some anniversary in the Federation or the launch of the Constitution class. However, Starfleet soon found this new insignia system to be too complicated to be practical, and the commemorative insignias of the Constitution crews only compounded the issue. So by 2265-2266 this system and the Constitution insignias are being phased out, but the process is slow and you have a lot of starbase personnel, cargo ship crews, and Constitution class crews still wearing uniforms with different insignias. The USS Defiant crew for the most part goes back to wearing uniforms with the Delta pretty quickly, and as result most of their uniforms with the chevron insignias are locked away in storage. With the events of The Tholian Web and the Mirror Universe Tholians clearing most bodies from the salvaged Defiant, those members of the Mirror Universe NX-01 crew who put on the Defiant uniforms are putting on older, discarded uniforms from storage.
I have more to say, especially regarding the Animated Series, but maybe I'll stop here for now.
Registered: Feb 2005
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The memo is interesting but is not itself canon fact. A show is a product of many hands, and as TAS shows that notion wasn't exactly firm.
The idea of different symbols per ship is a nice evolution between ENT ship patches and TMP fleetwide deltas. The obvious problem is that as ship numbers grew and given the apparent wish to keep the insignia simple, one would rapidly run out of distinct options. Even a couple hundred ships and ENT style patches would quickly become hard to distinguish meaningfully.
That's why I favor a view featuring unique *fleet* badges rather than ship badges, as recently suggested on Twitter. That makes sense given the folks on Starbase 11 and is workable elsewhere, along with special starbase badges and so on. The Xth Fleet featured the Enterprise and its badge was based on an early Starfleet delta design, the Yth Fleet had another, et cetera, and most Connies were parts of different fleets. For whatever reason the Enterprise's fleet design was chosen circa TMP to represent a united Starfleet.
This also ties in with some other thoughts I am having based on the concept of a united fleet referenced in the Garth ep, but that's neither here nor there.
Whatever the production crew's motives in deciding to do different insignia, personally I think most of the others look really silly or slapdash and lack the elegant simplicity of the delta, so in the great battle of canon it's not a hill I'm prepared to die on, TBH.