Starfleet ship registry and classes in Star Trek

Starfleet ship registry and classes in Star Trek

The Star Trek science fiction franchise included a large number of starships, some of which were regular settings while others made only brief appearances. Many Starfleet vessels follow various standard designs or ship classes.

Starfleet starships are identified by a unique registry consisting of a two- or three-letter prefix, a string of digits, and, in some instances, a one-letter suffix. The combination is also called a ship's registry number despite the presence of letters. The most well-known registry among Star Trek fans is "NCC-1701", which belongs to the original USS Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk. All subsequent Enterprises used the same registry with a suffix of A-E (with -J being seen in Star Trek Enterprise,) denoting each vessel in chronological order.

Unless otherwise indicated, registry numbers cited are either clearly visible on a ship's hull or clearly spoken aloud.



Registry numbers are painted on a starship's hull. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds", Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Shelby identifies ships destroyed by the Borg based on their hull markings.[1] In other episodes, such as TNG's "The Wounded", ships are instead identified via a transponder.[2]

In "The Wounded", Star Trek Nemesis and other instances, computer displays represent a ship's position with an icon for its affiliated organization (e.g. a Starfleet shield) next to both the ship's name and its registry number.[2][3]



In the original series, USS was referred to as standing for either "United Space Ship" or "United Star Ship." This designation was used as early as 2167 on the Daedalus-class starship, the USS Essex.[4]


"NCC" is the most common registry prefix, used by almost every known Starfleet vessel in the franchise. The prefix first appears in Star Trek: The Original Series and was created by designer Matt Jefferies. The Star Trek Encyclopedia[5] says:

NCC doesn't stand for anything. It was devised by Matt Jefferies, art director of the first Star Trek series. Jefferies, who is a pilot, based NCC on 20th century aircraft registration codes. In such 20th century usage, an "N" first letter refers to an aircraft registered in the USA. A "C" second letter refers to a civil aircraft. Jefferies added a second "C", just because he thought it looked better. Think of it as being like the arbitrary three-letter code that's part of automobile license plate numbers in many states.

Jefferies attributed the extra "C" to a combination of the US aviation code "NC", and the Soviet equivalent "CC CC".[6]

According to non-canon print sources, "NCC" is short for "Naval Construction Code", "Navigational Contact Code" or "Naval Construction Contract".[7] It is interesting to note that the original Enterprise is a "Constitution Class" (CC) starship.


Three ships which were the first of their class seen on screen have a registry beginning with "NX".

The first of these is the USS Excelsior, which first appears in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, with the registry "NX-2000". It is the first of the new Excelsior class. By the time of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it is seen in active duty, with the registry "NCC-2000".

The USS Defiant is the first of a class designed to fight the Borg.[8] Although the ship sees extensive service before and during the Dominion War, it never loses the "NX" in its registry, even though other ships of its class bear "NCC" registries (e.g. the NCC-74210 for the USS Valiant[9] and NCC-75633 for the USS São Paulo[10]). The latter of which was renamed to the USS Defiant, along with the Defiant's NX registry, after the destruction of the original.

The experimental USS Prometheus has the registry number "NX-59650". However the registry on all the internal displays and the ship's dedication plaque is stated as "NX-74913".[11]

The USS Dauntless, a ship made to look like a Federation starship, has the registry NX-01-A in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Hope and Fear".

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual claims that the USS Galaxy is the first of the Galaxy class, and gives its registry as NX-70637. A Galaxy-class USS Galaxy is later seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with the registry NCC-70637.[12]

NX class

A significant use of "NX" is in "NX-01": the registry for the centerpiece of the titular starship in Star Trek: Enterprise.[13] However, in that series, "NX" is not the designation for an experimental starship; rather, it indicates the vessel's class. The NX-01 is an NX class starship[13] in the same way that some starships in "later" series are Constitution or Excelsior class vessels.

Other prefixes

A handful of other prefixes sporadically appear in various Star Trek series.

Registry Name Class Role
NV-01[14] Intrepid Intrepid Earth starship
NAR-18834[15] SS Vico Oberth Federation research vessel
NAR-32450[16] USS Raven Raven Federation research vessel
NCV-474439-G[17] USS Relativity Wells Starfleet time ship
NDT-50863[18] SS Milan Unknown Starfleet transport
NFT-1327[19] SS Lakul Whorfin Federation transport
NFT-7793[19] SS Robert Fox Whorfin Federation transport
NGL-12535[20] SS Odin Unknown Federation freighter
NSP-17938[21] SS T'Pau Unknown Vulcan transport
NCX-3001[22] USS Proxima Proxima Refit Federation Battleship


Whereas the majority of known starships share the "NCC" prefix, the digits following that prefix (separated from it by a hyphen) are, with few exceptions, unique to each known vessel.

Two freighters in the non-canon animated series have the only two registries known to mix letters with the registry's digits: an unnamed robot freighter ("NCC-G1465"[23]) and the USS Huron ("NCC-F1513"[24]).

Star Trek: Enterprise era

Only two Earth Starfleet ships' registries are legibile on screen: "NX-01" for the Enterprise[13] and "NX-02" for the Columbia.[25]However, in the Mirror universe, there is an ISS Avenger, "NX-09".

Between Enterprise and The Original Series

Few episodes refer to ships from this era and fewer still reveal those ships' registry numbers. The only firmly established registry number in this era is "NCC-173" for the USS Essex[26]. The Star Trek Encyclopedia claims that the USS Archon, mentioned but not seen in "The Return of the Archons", has the registry "NCC-189".

The Original Series and TOS film era

In The Original Series, the only registries seen on a ship's hull are for vessels of the same Constitution class as the Enterprise. Jeffries chose "1701" for legibility at a distance, rationalizing it as being the 1st ship of the 17th design.[27] Most starships seen or mentioned in The Original Series have four-digit registry numbers beginning with "16", "17" or "18".[28][29] One exception is the "NCC-1017" registry for the USS Constellation: the show's modelmakers used an old Enterprise model and simply rearranged the registry numbering.[5]

Two of the major Starfleet vessels introduced in the TOS-era films – the USS Reliant and USS Excelsior – also have four-digit registries: "NCC-1864"[30] and "NX-2000"[31] (later "NCC-2000"[32]), respectively. Other vessels generally follow this pattern,[32][33] although there are a few vessels with three-digit registries. The most obvious one is the use of "NCC-638" for the USS Grissom.[31] Other examples include "NCC-621" and "NCC-595" for the scouts Columbia and Revere, respectively.[31] [34] In the Remastered version of "Star Trek" currently on air, the episode "Charlie X" visually features the cargo vessel "Antares" with the registry NCC-501 upon its hull, although the registry prior to the remastering was never seen or mentioned in the original episode. [35]

The Next Generation et al. era

Starfleet ships in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager generally use five-digit registry numbers. The most frequently seen "guest" ships are Excelsior class starships whose registries range from the USS Berlin's "NCC-14232"[36] to the USS Crazy Horse's "NCC-50446".[37] Most vessel registries in The Next Generation fall within this range. Registry numbers in the 60000s and 70000s are more common in Deep Space Nine (featuring the "NX-74205"[8] and "NCC-75633"[10] USS Defiants) and Voyager (featuring the titular NCC-74656[38]).

Beyond TNG

The time ship USS Relativity from the 29th century has the six-digit registry "NCV-474439-G".[17]


In Star Trek canon, the addition of a one-letter suffix to the registry is most notably used by successors of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

USS Enterprise

Starfleet reuses the original Enterprise's "NCC-1701" registry with each newly commissioned Enterprise, differentiating between vessels by affixing a letter to the end; "NCC-1701-E" is the registry for the sixth starship Enterprise to carry "NCC-1701" as part of its registry.[39] These Enterprises are generally differentiated by referring to them as, for example, "the Enterprise-B" for the NCC-1701-B[40] or "the Enterprise-C" for the NCC-1701-C.[41] After setting the self destruct on the Enterprise-E, Captain Jean-Luc Picard quips that Starfleet will likely build another Enterprise because there are "plenty of letters left in the alphabet".[39] Although not canon, an Enterprise-F appears in two Star Trek novels.[42][43] An Enterprise-J serves in an alternate timeline's 26th century.[44]

USS Excalibur

In the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (Game Boy game) a Disruptor was being installed on the U.S.S. Excalibur, to be taken to Sector Alpha-9, to confront The Doomsday Machine. The Klingons, having learned of the Disruptor's existence, but not its purpose, and fearing its use against their empire, intercepted and disabled the Excalibur, leaving it up to the Enterprise[45]. After the destruction of the Ambassador-class USS Excalibur (NCC-26517) in Peter David's best-selling non-canon New Frontier series,[46] Starfleet commissions a Galaxy class Excalibur with the registry "NCC-26517-A".[47]

USS Relativity

The 29th century time ship USS Relativity has the registry NCV-474439-G. Following the pattern used with the Enterprises, this suggests that the Relativity is the eighth ship to carry the name. However, the vessel's dedication plaque indicates that it is the seventh Relativity.[17]

USS Yamato (error)

Commander William Riker reads the registry of a phantom USS Yamato as "NCC-1305-E".[48] However, this conflicts with the shooting model, which bears the registry "NCC-71807" in both this and a subsequent appearance.[49] Despite the dialogue, "NCC-71807" is the correct registry number.[5]

USS Defiant (Canon Statement)

The Defiant, NX-74205, is destroyed late in the run of Deep Space Nine. Captain Sisko is given command of a replacement ship, the Sao Paulo, and given permission to re-designate it Defiant. Although the exterior shots seen of the ship bear the original Defiant markings, the production crew has stated that the intent was to designate the ship as NX-74205-A; however, the change was unable to be made on screen for budgetary reasons, thus making the hull number apocryphal.


Federation class

The Federation-class dreadnought is a ship type first posited by Franz Joseph's Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual. The Federation-class is similar to the Constitution-class, but has an additional nacelle. According to the scale presented in the Manual, it is also somewhat larger, with armament and a rear-facing "sensor dish" (note that the navigational deflector is labeled as a sensor dish in the Manual) on the secondary hull. Odd-nacelled designs are rarely seen on screen: the one-nacelled Freedom-class appears as a wreck, and the Enterprise-D has been fitted with a third nacelle in the possible future shown in "All Good Things...".

At the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Dreadnought Entente, NCC-2120 is mentioned in radio chatter, matching the name and registry for one of the Federation-class ships given by Joseph. A picture of the Joseph's class appears on a computer screen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Diane Carey's novel Dreadnought! heavily features the three-nacelled, Federation dreadnought the USS Star Empire. Its registry disagrees with that given by Joseph (as does the claim that is it the class prototype: Joseph gives this as the USS Federation NCC-2100).

The Star Fleet Battles gaming universe presents the dreadnought as 50% larger than the heavy cruiser (Constitution and Enterprise classes) but it has little increase in firepower and is not up to par with the dreadnoughts of other races. Its justification is mostly as a command ship in fleet operations but is eventually phased out in favor of the battlecruiser classes (represented by the Excelsior class cruisers).

Along with the Saladin class ships, the Federation class can be seen at various intervals throughout the simulator of the Enterprise bridge in The Wrath of Khan, displayed in a schematic view on various displays.

Norway class

In real life, the Norway class was designed by Alex Jaeger at Industrial Light & Magic and rendered as a computer-generated visual effect for Star Trek: First Contact. However, the computer files were irrevocably corrupted before they could be used again following the movie. Therefore, very little is known about the ship. In fact, the actual design of the ship is slightly controversial, as there are two known images of the ship: One in the Star Trek tech manuals, and one in the background of the movie. The only known ship is the USS Budapest.

NX class

The concept artists responsible for the design of the Enterprise (NX-01), the main ship of the series Star Trek: Enterprise, have said that they based the general external layout of the NX-class on the Akira-class,[50] since that class had only appeared in the background of effects shots and was never prominently featured.

Ptolemy class

The Ptolemy class tug is another starship that exists in the Star Fleet Technical Manual. It consists of the same saucer-shaped primary hull common to the Constitution-class cruiser, the Saladin-class destroyer and the Hermes-class scout. Two warp nacelles are attached by pylons underneath the primary hull–there is a towing plate in the center designed to carry cylindrical cargo containers where the secondary hull would be on a Constitution-class ship. These cargo pods can come in various designs, depending on what cargo needs to be moved.

This ship class makes an appearance in an "episode" of the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary computer game as the USS Masada, a starship taken over by Elasi pirates.

Saladin class

The Saladin class is a type of starship that originated in Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. Diagrams from this Technical Manual were used in bridge displays in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Technical Manual designates it is a "destroyer", and claims the first ship of this class is the USS Saladin, NCC-500. The ship has only one nacelle. The USS Kelvin (NCC-0514) seen in the 2009 film is broadly similar to the Saladin, but has considerably different hull detailing and adds a secondary hull mounted above the saucer.

The video game Star Trek: Legacy features a starship of the same design as the Saladin but instead refers to it as Apollo class. This ship can be used during the first part of the Original Series section of the game. Later, the ship gets a restyle similar to the Enterprise-A's refit, this time with two similar warp nacelles. This version is dubbed the "Apollo-class refit."

Galaxy Class

The model of the Galaxy Class USS Enterprise was built by Industrial Light & Magic, in the Star Trek television show, it was used during the 24th century. Ships of this class were: The USS Enterprise, the USS Yamato, USS Odyssey USS Venture and, though never prominently featured, the USS Galaxy. Gene Roddenberry speculated that six were built. This was not confirmed, and possibly more were built. [Classes 1] .

Wells class

The Wells class is a 29th century Federation timeship class in the series Star Trek: Voyager, appearing in the episode "Relativity". The episode's titular ship, the USS Relativity, is the only Wells-class ship to appear in Star Trek. The Relativity also appears in the non-canon Star Trek: New Frontier comic book, attempting to prevent Mackenzie Calhoun from changing history.

The ship has a small, single hull with warp nacelles that are pod-like in appearance. The class is named after H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine.

See also


  1. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Best of Both Worlds (Part II)"
  2. ^ a b Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Wounded"
  3. ^ Star Trek Nemesis
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Okuda, Michael & Denise (1994,1997,1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-03475-8. 
  6. ^ "Interviews: Matt Jefferies: Why NCC-1701?". Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  7. ^ Joseph, Franz (1975). Star Trek Starfleet Technical Manual. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-34074-4. 
  8. ^ a b Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "The Search, Part I"
  9. ^ Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Valiant"
  10. ^ a b which was later renamed to the USS Defiant after the destruction of the originalStar Trek: Deep Space Nine: "The Dogs of War"
  11. ^ Star Trek: Voyager: "Message in a Bottle"
  12. ^ "Tears of the Prophets". Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  13. ^ a b c Star Trek: Enterprise: "Broken Bow"
  14. ^ Star Trek: Enterprise: "First Flight" - The Intrepid's identification as the NV-01 is conjecture based on one of the mission patches visible in the 602 Club.
  15. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Hero Worship" - visible on an Okudagram
  16. ^ Star Trek: Voyager: "The Raven"
  17. ^ a b c Star Trek: Voyager: "Relativity"
  18. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "New Ground" - visible on an Okudagram
  19. ^ a b Star Trek Generations - visible on an Okudagram
  20. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Angel One" - visible on an Okudagram
  21. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Unification" - visible on an Okudagram
  22. ^ Star Trek: Legacy: - visible on Hull
  23. ^ Star Trek: The Animated Series: "More Tribbles, More Troubles"
  24. ^ Star Trek: The Animated Series: "The Pirates of Orion"
  25. ^ Star Trek: Enterprise: "Affliction"
  26. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Power Play"
  27. ^ Herbert F. Solow and Yvonne Fern (1997). Star Trek Sketchbook: The Original Series. Pocket Books. ISBN 0671002198. 
  28. ^ Star Trek: The Original Series: "Court Martial"
  29. ^ Star Trek: The Original Series: "The Doomsday Machine"
  30. ^ Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  31. ^ a b c Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  32. ^ a b Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  33. ^ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  34. ^ Star Trek: The Motion Picture - names and registry numbers audible amid communications chatter during the Epsilon 9 establishing shots
  35. ^ Image from "Charlie X" - Remastered - registry and name clearly seen in Star Trek Remastered episode.
  36. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Brothers" - visible on an Okudagram
  37. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Pegasus"
  38. ^ Star Trek: Voyager: "Caretaker"
  39. ^ a b Star Trek: First Contact
  40. ^ Star Trek Generations
  41. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Yesterday's Enterprise"
  42. ^ David, Peter (1992). Imzadi. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-86729-6. 
  43. ^ Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield (2002). Millennium Omnibus. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-4249-0. 
  44. ^ Star Trek: Enterprise: "Azati Prime"
  45. ^ Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (Game Boy game)
  46. ^ David, Peter (1999). Star Trek: New Frontier #8: Dark Allies. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-02080-3. 
  47. ^ David, Peter (2001). Star Trek: New Frontier #11: Restoration. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-1064-5. 
  48. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Where Silence Has Lease"
  49. ^ Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Contagion"
  50. ^ Salvador Nogueira (October 2002). "Interview". Steve Krutzler. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  1. ^ Okuda, Michael and Denise (1999). The Star trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. pp. 164. ISBN 0-671-03475-8. 

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