Okay, something has been nagging at me so I decided to go back and check.
In The Making of Star Trek
there are reprints of memos dating around early August, 1967 wherein they are discussion proposed names for starships. The thinking behind these suggestions are to "establish the names of the 12 ships of the Enterprise Starship Class."
The idea conveyed here seems to be implying sister ships like the Enterprise
but not necessarily of the Enterprise
Later it says "The Enterprise is a member of the Starship Class (there are twelve of them). Registry Number NCC-1701."
And later still there is reference to Kirk's first command "the equivalent of a destroyer-class spaceship."
From those nuggets alone we get the impression the Enterprise
is a member of the Starship Class, but not actually cited as the class ship or the first bird.
We also learn that Starfleet has other classes of spaceships (or starships) because Kirk is cited as having commanded a destroyer-class equivalent.
Throughout the text I cannot find any definitive reference to "Enterprise
-class starship." And at this point the phaser schematic that will appear in "The Trouble With Tribbles" denoting "Constitution
-class starship" has yet to appear onscreen even though it was made originally for "Space Seed" and predating these memos from August, 1967.
What I get out of all this is that MJ likely intended the Enterprise
to be Constitution
-class even though it would have been established as an indirect visual reference onscreen in "Space Seed." But the graphic didn't get used until much later and during that time perhaps no one else knew how specific MJ had been with his graphic and thus no one was talking about coming up with names for ships of the Constitution
-class. They were just trying to establish names for sister ships like the Enterprise.
Now there is another wrinkle. Both the text and onscreen references are explicit that there are only twelve ships
of the Enterprise's
class. And yet they finalize on fourteen names on top of which later script drafts will reference names not on that established list, and one of them (Defiant)
actually makes it onscreen. So was the Defiant
a replacement for a previously lost ship or was it there all along as one of the twelve? One could argue the fourteen names were meant as a pool to draw from yet no one was really held to it if they had a another suggestion, which seems the case when they used Defiant
in "The Tholian Web."
What I get from this is we really don't know all of the specific twelve names of the Starship Class. We know only some of them. It's called into question because they appear to establish a pool of names and then later ignore it.
Now, further, one name appears on the pool of names that could be cause for confusion: Valiant.
is first mentioned in WNMHGB as a space vessel lost some 200 years prior. So I think it's safe to assume that Valiant
wasn't one of the Starship Class. But later another Valiant
is mentioned as being lost fifty years prior in "A Taste Of Armageddon." Could this Valiant
be of the Starship Class or is it yet again another older ship that predates the existence of the Starship Class? I never got the impression the Starship Class vessels were easily fifty years old. At the time of the Kirk era the impression I get is the ships are no more than maybe twenty-five years old. If so then if there is indeed a Valiant
among the Starship Class then I'm assuming it's still out there in operation as it's not the one referenced as destroyed at Eminiar 7.
Add another little tidbit. FJ gave the Valiant
the registry NCC-1708
is on Stone's wall chart. Take from that what you will. Jein gave the Valiant
the number 1623
which is not on Stone's chart. With a 1600 number it's then possible the Valiant listed in the pool of names is actually an older class of vessel that was nonetheless of similar classification as the Enterprise.
could be of the Starship Class yet older versions of said class.
The Starship Class could be a classification that Starfleet has used for quite some time denoting their best-of-the-best ships, but of course as time and progress marches forward newer and more advanced versions could be introduced and the Enterprise
is (at the time of TOS) among the newest, the elite twelve of which we really don't know all the names.