The idea of a "Starship Class" being different from a "Destroyer Class" is certainly interesting, but wouldn't that imply that the U.S.S. Saladin would not, officially, be called a starship?
Yes, it would - and there's nothing in the aired material to suggest that things should be otherwise. The Columbia
and the Revere
are never suggested to be starships, merely scouts; had there ever been a reference to the Saladin
, I'm sure it would have emphasized the destroyer identity and thus neglected to comment on the starship one.
This for the 23rd century where such things still matter. The distinction would go away by the 24th, apparently, and TNG references to older vessels might also eschew with it.
As for all spaceships being starships, well, not all warships are battleships. To the layman, it would seem stupid not to consider a corvette a battleship because obviously it's built for battle, but there you have it.
Because that's what 'class' means: it's named after the first ship of that class to be built.
Plenty of alternatives to that in the real world. We indeed speak of "destroyer class vessels" without implying the existence of any USS Destroyer
. We also speak of AEGIS class ships, which in the 1980s was a specific reference to the Ticonderoga
class but nowadays is a vague gesture towards about a dozen distinct ship classes equipped with AEGIS technology. Finally, the Royal Navy frequently uses thematic class names, there having been several Town, County, River, Duke and Tribal classes, but never an HMS Town
, HMS County
, HMS River
or... You get the picture. Perhaps the Constitutions
were the first ships in Starfleet to be systematically named after famous starships?