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The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship
by Gregory Jein
April 1975

Originally published in T-Negative 27, a Star Trek fanzine published by Ruth Berman. Reprinted with permission of Greg Jein and Ruth Berman.

((In T-N 23 Steve VanderArk asked about the registry numbers of starships other than the Enterprise -- to which I forthrightly replied that I didn't know. Thereupon several readers sent a summary of an article by Greg Jein which he'd done for fellow ship enthusiasts but hadn't published, and soon after Greg sent the article itself; I didn't want to print just a summary, so waited till I had space for the whole.))

Introduction

A number of fans have inquired as to why I have given certain starships certain numbers. My registration system is by no means official. I do not believe there ever was a complete listing of starship names and their respective numbers. Undoubtedly D.C. Fontana and Bob Justman consdiered this, but since there apparently was not a pressing need for such a list, it was probably never finalized. Therefore, unless such a list does exist, I must conclude that all listings of starships and their registration numbers have been arbitrarily arrived at. My system is not really any better. I've combined confusion, circumstance, and innuendo to produce illogic, but it relatively (in the loosest possible sense) forms a semi-cohesive pattern.

The treatise is basically a documentation of the clues I had to work, and how I maneuvered, manipulated, and exploited them until they formed some sort of pseudo significance. The whole thing came about as I was doing research for a series of proposed articles on Star Fleet, but complications arose; more photos and drawings were required, the paper work piled up, time dragged on, I got lazier, and in short, I shelved the project half completed. Since that time the quantity and quality of articles by Star Trek fandom have increased tenfold, and there is no longer any need for my humble efforts.

Below is a close-up of the lettering style used on the "real" Enterprise. As you can see, there are differences between it and both teh current and original AMT decal sheets. Some numbers/letters are sans-serif, too thin, misproportioned and outlined in white when they should not be. In the "Booklet of General Plans" of starships, published by Franz Joseph Designs, a different lettering style is also used.

The Case

On February 2, 1967, the episode "Court Martial" was first shown. Within five minutes the first listing of starship registration numbers became known. When I obtained a film clip of the scene form Kay Anderson, I enlarged a portion of it until I could read the numbers. I believe they read as follows:

NCC-1709
NCC-1631
NCC-1703
NCC-1672
NCC-1664
NCC-1697
NCC-1701
NCC-1718
NCC-1685
NCC-1700

In September 1968, Stephen Whitfield's book, The Making of Star Trek, quoted memos from D.C. Fontana and Bob Justman recommending names for starships, and Whitfield gave a list of established names (pp. 164-165): Enterprise, Exeter, Excalibur, Lexington, Yorktown, Potemkin, Republic, Hood, Constitution, Kongo, Constellation, Farragut, Valiant, and Intrepid. (Other names mentioned in the memos were: Essex, Endeavor, El Dorado, Excelsior, Saratoga, Hornet, Wasp, Bonhomme Richard, Monitor, Merrimac, Tori, Lafayette, Ari, Krieger, Eagle.) For various reasons, I did not find this list very accurate or complete.

In my research I could not find any mention of the Kongo in any story-outline or script. This does not necessarily mean that the ship does not exist. Giving it the benefit of a doubt, I will accept it as an "official" name.

The inclusion of the Valiant is a bit shakier. In the episode "A Taste of Armageddon" it is mentioned that the Valiant had been destroyed 50 years prior to the Enterprise's contact with Eminiar VII. Yet in Whitfield's book, it's stated (p. 203) that "Enterprise-class starships have been in existence for about forty years." If I overlook this approximately ten year gap, I can also accept the Valiant as an "official" vessel.

The Farragut is stated to have been destroyed in "Obsession." If this is in reference to the incident with the Di-Kironium creature, I don't agree. Granted, the ship's complement was rather liberally reduced, but I don't think the vampire-cloud destroyed the ship -- just a number of personnel. Theorizing, I could foresee Star Fleet not desiring to just replace spent personnel and return the ship to the "front lines" again. The stigmatism of the disaster (not being a military defeat) could possibly affect the public morale. Was there ever another ship named Titanic or Thresher? No, I can imagine that the refurbished Farragut has become a training vessel, rather than being returned to combat status.

The Defiant is missing from the list because "The Tholian Web" was not aired until November 11, 1968, after the book came out. A more "trekkish" rationalization would be to say the Defiant was the Fleet's newest ship and that it was on its maiden voyage when it was lost. Tough break.

In going through a number of scripts, I came across a few additional starship names. Some cancelled themselves out in later script drafts. In "The Omega Glory," the U.S.S. Argentina later became the U.S.S. Exeter. The U.S.S. Lord Nelson became the survey ship S.S. Beagle in "Bread and Circuses." The U.S.S. Scimitar was changed to U.S.S. Defiant in "The Tholian Web." And of course, the original name for the Enterprise was the Yorktown.

The starship names that did hold up are the U.S.S. Essex, the U.S.S. Eagle, and U.S.S. Endeavor. (Uhura in Fontana's "Journey to Babel," first draft, p. 64, September 30, 1967: "Star Fleet Command confirms alien attack on the other starships, Sir. The enemy was defeated. Starships Essex and Eagle suffered heavy damage, but will make base." Kirk in Sturgeon's "Amok Time," first draft, p. 27, May 15, 1967: "Excalibur and Endeavor are the other two ships assigned with us to Altair.")

When these names are added to the "official" list and everything is placed in alphabetical order, the result is:

CONSTELLATION
CONSTITUTION
DEFIANT
EAGLE
ENDEAVOR
ENTERPRISE
ESSEX
EXCALIBUR
EXETER
FARRAGUT
HOOD
INTREPID
KONGO
LEXINGTON
POTEMKIN
REPUBLIC
VALIANT
YORKTOWN

In order to match this listing with the known starship numbers, I made the following omissions:

CONSTELLATION: This ship's number, NCC-1701 (sic), was not on the "Court Martial" chart. (The ship was shown -- and destroyed -- in "Doomsday Machine," where its number was visible.) I can assume it was not on the chart becuase it was not in port or not yet constructed.

DEFIANT: not as yet built when the "Court Martial" incident occurred.

FARRAGUT: "Officially" listed as destroyed, presumably ten years prior to the "Court Martial" incident. (I still contend that it was not destroyed, and that it is now a training vessel.)

KONGO: Since I could not find any written reference to this ship prior to its appearance on the "official" list, I will presume that it was not as yet built when the "Court Martial" incident occurred. Like the Defiant, I consider it a later model/second-third season ship.

REPUBLIC: This ship's number, 1371 (mentioned by Kirk in "Court Martial" by Mankiewicz and Carabatsos, revised final draft, October 3, 1966, p. 10) is not on the chart. I assume it was not in port, or more probably it is now a training vessel and no longer a "front line" ship.

VALIANT: Destroyed by Eminiar VII approximately 50 years ago.

Now, by a strange coincidence, we are left with twelve starships, the same number of ships Captain Kirk mentioned in "Tomorrow is Yesterday." The list reads:

CONSTITUTION
EAGLE
ENDEAVOR
ENTERPRISE
ESSEX
EXCALIBUR
EXETER
HOOD
INTREPID
LEXINGTON
POTEMKIN
YORKTOWN

To match the ship names to specific numbers, let us assume that since Star Fleet is a multicultural organization, it is also multi-grammatical. Its personnel, being multi-lingual, can read and write in a variety of ways all acceptable by Federation standards. Written records may differ from what we in current Western culture consider the norm. Since Japanese is read from right to left, and some of the ancient Greek and Latin boustrophedon writings are read alternately top to bottom and bottom to top, or left to right and right to left, why could not some conglomeration of this type exist in the future/Star Trek time? perhaps (sic) even coupled with some form of alien syntax for spice. With this thougth in mind, reverse/invert the listing of names and match them to the list of number in a manner enabling you to read from bottom to top. We get:

 YORKTOWN
 POTEMKIN
NCC-1709LEXINGTON
NCC-1631INTREPID
NCC-1703HOOD
NCC-1672EXETER
NCC-1664EXCALIBUR
NCC-1697ESSEX
NCC-1701ENTERPRISE
NCC-1718ENDEAVOR
NCC-1685EAGLE
NCC-1700CONSTITUTION

Before you retch at this dazzling display of illogic, consider the following:

  1. The registration number of the U.S.S. Enterprise is NCC-1701. When the list of starship names is inverted and matched with the starship numbers, Enterprise fits with 1701.

  2. The Enterprise is known to be a Constitution Class ship (illo below). In naval parlance the class of a vessel is usually named after the first model of the line built, with each ship thereafter consecutively numbered. Thus we have Constitution #1700 and Enterpirse #1701.

  3. "The Space Seed," Scene 44. Enlargement of a portion of a film clip. This indicates that the U.S.S. Enterprise (MK IX/01) is a Constitution Class vessel. (Click image to view full-size.)
  4. In "Court Martial," Commodore Stone pulled a maintenance crew off the Intrepid to work on the Enterprise. Logically he would pull the crew off the ship needing the least repair, the most battleworthy, thus allowing those vessels needing the most renovation to continue with their overhauls. On the chart, the vessel requiring the least maintenance/the closest to completion is NCC-1631,* which by coincidence matches with the name Intrepid on the reverse name list! Besides, Stone knew the Intrepid was manned by Vulcans (of "Immunity Syndrome"), who ar emore than capable of handling any finishing touches in repair work.

  5. The listing of numbers on the starship chart is obviously not in numerical order, nor in order of status/completion. However, it does fit in the reverse alphabetical order.

I will be the first to admit that at best, everything I have presented is circumstantial. There are a number of variables which can alter any hypothesis quite easily. In fact, I am certain I can invalidate the documentation better than anyone. Being my "brain child," its strengths and weaknesses (which can be legion!) are well known to me. I don't claim to attempt to lend an air of authority or officiality to undertaking.

* RB's note. Readers may recall from T-N 23 that I speculated that the chart measured where the ships were in their five-year missions, as it was numbered in percentages -- and the ship which Greg has here identified as the Intrepid had not only reached the 100% line but had a line beyond it starting over. Greg's theory, that the chart showed ships in port and undergoing repair, fits in better with the plot of the episode, and I asked him if he could find a way to reconcile a repair job which was more than 100% complete. He suggested that perhaps the extra percentage "refers to some form of 'finishing touch' labor, i.e., painting, checking computer, etc" and the first part of the graph "to heavy mechanical labor/construction."

A projected list of starship registry. Many of hte names and numbers are autocratic additions, but I have included the aforestated "official" names as well. You are, of course, free to regard this with approval, disapproval, or indifference.

numbershipclass
NCC-1700CONSTITUTIONMK IX DSC
NCC-1017CONSTELLATIONMK VII IC
NCC-1764DEFIANTMK IX DSC
NCC-1685EAGLEMK VIII IC
NCC-1718ENDEAVORMK IX DSC
NCC-1701ENTERPRISEMK IX DSC
NCC-1697ESSEXMK VIII IC
NCC-1664EXCALIBURMK VIII IC
NCC-1672EXETERMK VIII IC
NCC-1647FARRAGUTMK VIII SC
NCC-1703HOODMK IX DSC
NCC-1868HORNETMK X DSC
NCC-1631INTREPIDMK VII IC
NCC-1732KONGOMK IX DSC
NCC-1866LAFAYETTEMK X DSC
NCC-1709LEXINGTONMK IX DSC
NCC-1702POTEMKINMK IX DSC
NCC-1371REPUBLICMK VI SC
NCC-1865TASHIK-SOTRAMK X DSC
NCC-1623VALIANTMK VII IC
NCC-1717YORKTOWNMK IX DSC

(Classes given in the format of the "Space Seed" diagram. Abbreviations: DSC/deep space cruiser; IC/interstellar cruiser; SC/space cruiser.)

If there is an axiom which sums up this treatise, it is a line from an old Charlie Chan movie: "Finding web of spider does not prove which spider spin web."



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