Mr. Laser Beam wrote:
I mean, the term "Starship class" would require a USS Starship, and that obviously makes no sense. It seems clear that the designers of the 1701 plaque meant "starship TYPE", not class.
Please forgive, but I fail to see why "Starship Class" would have to
require a "USS Starship". "Obviously" is very relative, I don't see what's obvious about that here. There's one quote from Dick Arnold I wholeheartedly agree with: Maybe they do things a little differently in the 23rd Century.
According to the Making of Star Trek
there will also be a "Deytroyer Class" and then we have the "Scout Class" mentioned in and outside the movies for certain vessels.
And then there's what I remember to be probably a type designation: "Space Cruiser"
The only thing that's "obvious" to me is that some fans disagree with the original creators / producers choices and intentions.