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Old December 30 2012, 08:48 PM   #8
Re: Anyone have any good reason for ship registry changes?

Using the A-B-C and on suffixes would be more logical, instead of issuing completely remakes of a type number.
Umm, doesn't sound sensible. The registry number has got nothing to do with type, as far as we can tell. And the various ships named Hood or Intrepid or whatever have got nothing to do with each other: one isn't the operational successor of an earlier one. The only thing such ships have in common is the name, which is completely frivolously applied and indicates no "lineage" of any sort.

In real navies, registry numbers are often related to ship type, and for this reason are quite prominent: seeing the USN pennant code DD-556 tells you immediately that this is a destroyer of the same type as DD-551, for example, and you may even recognize this fact from the 556 part alone, knowing by rote that there doesn't exist a FF-556 or a CGN-556 because frigates and nuclear cruisers have their own sequences of running pennant numbers. However, in real navies, a name tells extremely little about a ship (although in USN service a vessel with a state name might be guessed to be either a battleship or a ballistic missile submarine, etc.). Out of the string of USN ships named Enterprise, two are coincidentally aircraft carriers, but one is not the successor of the other in any sense.

In Starfleet, registries are apparently simply running numbers indicating date of construction at most. But it is again extremely rarely and mainly by coincidence or exceptional circumstances that a ship named X would be directly succeeded by another ship named X which, say, inherits the former namesake's mission. We know of no "succession" from the TOS-era Hood to the TNG era one. We even lack any knowledge of "succession" from the Enterprise-C to the Enterprise-D, as there is a decades-long gap between the service dates of the two ships, and no indication that the former would ever have been handling the "Federation Flagship" mission of the latter.

In real navies, the A-B-C thing would be completely nonsensical, as the concept of a "successor vessel" does not exist, and in any case the standard part of a pennant code is more than sufficient to uniquely identify a vessel, its type, and even its rough place in the construction schedule. In Starfleet, A-B-C seems to be reserved purely for PR purposes, and should stand out from the crowd to give heightened recognition to ships named Enterprise or Yamato, for obvious or obscure historical reasons. It would lose all meaning if applied on all ships (and would furthermore serve no purpose if applied on all ships, because again the standard parts of the registry already fully identify each vessel).

Again, ship "lineages" don't exist in reality - a string of ships carrying the same name is just a string of ships, denoting no evolution, no passing of torch. A name may jump from a small gunboat to a mighty battle cruiser and next be applied on a minesweeper or a submarine. In Starfleet, the issue is confused a bit by each Enterprise being longer than the previous one (although the E is much smaller than the D in every other respect), but e.g. the Intrepids don't get monotonically larger...

Timo Saloniemi
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