I've always been OK with assuming such references refer to the famous 1701 lineage only (I believe the continued use and appending of the registry to be abnormal and thus worthy of note on a dedication plaque), but I realize that's a stretch.
Doesn't work. The plaques said "Nth starship to bear the name
." A ship's registration number is not part of its name.
Besides, it's not like there's some law of nature that there needs to be a ship named Enterprise
constantly in service. Sizeable gaps without USS Enterprise
s in real life include 1777-1799 (22 years), 1844-1877 (33 years), 1919-1938 (19 years), and 1947-1961 (14 years). (There were HMS Enterprise
s during those periods, but I figure it's a better analogy to keep it to a single nation's ships.) In Trek, there were nearly two decades between the loss of the E-C and the launch of the E-D. And we've never seen any indication of an Enterprise
between the current aircraft carrier CVN-65 and the ringship -- but CVN-65 is due to be decommissioned early next year. Since the ringship was launched sometime before 2143 (or before 2129 according to Watching the Clock
), that means that apparently at least a century goes by between the commissioning of Earth ships named Enterprise
. A gap of 85 years between NX-01 and NCC-1701 (going with its conventional 2245 launch date) seems unusually long, but not as long as the gap between 2013 and whenever the ringship launches.
If it's not asking for too much story detail, can we expect to see the Enterprise crew still serving together on a different vessel, or will the both cover their individual exploits?
Yes. Or is it no?
Oh Christopher this is important.
Before you go to explain a change between Enterprise and TOS, make sure JJ Abrams doesn't contradict it in his next movie.
I have no ability or authority to influence Mr. Abrams's choices or even to discover what they are. But given the different time periods and timelines involved, the risk of contradiction seems remote.
It's always been a fact of life for Trek fiction that it runs the risk of being contradicted by later films or TV series, just as it's always been a fact of life for science fiction in general that it risks being contradicted by new discoveries or inventions, or simply by the calendar catching up with it. Sooner or later, all of Star Trek
will be contradicted, whether it's in 20 years when we don't send Ares IV
to Mars or in 51 years when Zefram Cochrane doesn't invent warp drive and make first contact. The only way you can tell science fiction stories at all is to live with the risk of contradiction -- to realize that it doesn't matter, because you're not trying to predict the future, just to tell entertaining and thought-provoking stories about possible futures.