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Ship registry


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Report this Nov. 08 2012, 1:07 pm

From an intereview with Matt Jeffries, the designer of the original Enterprise.

[quote]Q - Tell me where the number on the exterior came from?

NC, by international agreement, stood for all United States commercial vehicles. Russia had wound up with four Cs, CC CC. It’d been pretty much a common opinion that any major effort in space would be two expensive for any one country, so I mixed the US and the Russian and came up with NCC.

The one seven zero part - I needed a number that would be instantly identifiable, and three, six, eight and nine are too easily confused. I don’t think anyone’ll confuse a one and a seven, or the zero. So the one seven stood for the seventeenth basic ship design in the Federation, and the zero one would have been serial number one, the first bird. [/quote]

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by this subject, but I am. The fact that it's never defined in canon allows for some speculation, so I'm going to speculate.

Now, I'm aware of the theories put forth in non-canon licensed work. They're usually a case of the author not really understanding how they work. So here's my "theory" so to speak.

First off, it's important to differenciate from the registry code (NCC, NX) and the prefix (USS). It is likely that the ship prefix is 100% owner's perogative, and that Starfleet has elected to use the prefix USS at its own discression. They could have elected to use SFS (starfleet ship), UESS (United Earth Star Ship), FSS (Federation Star Ship), etc.., but they elected to go with USS. Probably in honor of the former United States Navy, which likely would have been the basis for most Starfleet organiation.

At the formation of the United Earth, the registries for the two major financial contributors to Starfleet's operations (the former United States and Russia) were honored by combining their registries into one (as stated by the person who came up with it) into NCC. This would form the "default" registry code for a ship under the control of Starfleet. 

So, to start with, any ship that does not meet the requirements for any other prefix designation receives NCC. It has no other meaning than "This is a starfleet craft, and it doesn't qualify for any other Starfleet designation."

Other Starfleet registry codes include NX (experimental vessel), NXP (pre-experimental vessel), H (unknown, attached to escape pods. Could specifically mean "escape pod", but could have something to do with a thruster-only vehicle), NAR (this one's difficult. The best explination I can come up with is that it applies to ship and base designs that already are in use, but encorporate some sort of experimental technology that is different from the main line. For example, if the Enterprise was outfitted with a slipstream drive, it's registry would change to "NAR-1701." That's a 100% guess, but it an explination that fits where we've seen NAR for the most part), NC (designate for small ships capable of supporting 10 or fewer crew members. Appears to be used for Starfleet and non-Starfleet vessels), NCV (timeship), NGA (private transport ship), XCN (Sol system exploration probe).

There are more, but I jst wanted to start the conversation and see what other people might think these prefixes stand for.

Here's the link to the Jeffries interview-
And here's the link to the Memory Alpha page- 


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Report this Nov. 12 2012, 3:56 am

I get the feeling that the USS prefix in Star Trek was a bit of a gaff on the writers' part that they had to retcon a bit because they couldn't change after the fact.

Have you ever danced with a Tribble in the pale moonlight?


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Report this Nov. 13 2012, 8:00 am

I just think the "USS" got started because Gene Roddenberry liked the Navy.  When TOS first appeared, the US Navy ruled the waves--at least in the "free world."

Var Miklama--Zakdorn, engineer. "A sound mind in a FULL body!" "Time, like latinum, is a limited quantity in the galaxy."

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