137th Gebirg wrote:
It could be argued that, during this particular time in Starfleet's history, they used an "NCC-??00" serial number in registries to designate an experimental or prototype model of the class, with incomplete systems or a test-bed platform, whereas anything with an "01" would be the first production ship of the line, fully functional with all the bells and whistles.
This would be akin to using an "NX" in the registry later on.
This argument could fit nicely in the established continuity, as well as resolve the apparent conflict between MJ's statement and FJ's designs.
My logic has some similarities, but is also different. If we accept that the ship is Constitution class, then USS Constitution was built up as NX-1700 and served as the testbed and proof of concept article for the Star Fleet. The Enterprise was the first operationally commissioned ship of the series, thus 1701. After the operational ships came out, the Constitution was retrofitted with improvements based on its testing (improvements initially installed in production hulls) and, when put back into service, the ship was fully operational, and was given the NCC registry.
Now, all that being said, it does not explain away the Constellation which is pretty clearly intended to be of the same class as the Enterprise but has a lower number. My solution to that one is as follows (and works, as long as you ignore ST:IV onwards!):
A previous Constellation (Hull number 1017) was destroyed. To honor its service, Star Fleet carried forward the hull number to a new-build 17th class ship. In this case, instead of thinking of the NCC number as the hull number, it makes more sense as a transponder number (i.e., navigational contact code).
Either way, I have to make some choices about my own fleet make-up theory soon, as I intend to start building my idea of a fleet in scale with my TOS Enterprise model... and I have to decide how to handle the numbering issues.