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Old July 21 2012, 08:30 PM   #1
Timo
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USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Oookay... Apparently, the Blu-Ray reworking of "The Naked Now" gives us a new registry number for the Oberth class model seen on screen there, one matching the five-digit number seen on said ship's dedication plaque. That is, the earlier three-digit number is now gone (from all but one overlooked scene).

However, it came as a surprise to me that the old pennant on the physical model, supposedly a remnant from its appearance as USS Copernicus at spacedock in ST4:TVH, is not "NCC-623" as the Encyclopedia would have us believe, but "NCC-640".

The TrekCore screencaps from ST4, fuzzy as they are, seem to show a number more resembling "623" than "640" IMHO... Was the model reworked for some reason between ST4 and the TNG appearance? Was it perhaps given a new name as well? Did the VFX people turn the model into "USS Tsiolkovski NCC-640" when the prop people used that name but for some reason chose a different number?

Or has everybody been seeing things all the time and "623" never existed?

Have a look at the ST4 'caps, offer theories, whip out a surprise card...

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Old July 21 2012, 10:58 PM   #2
throwback
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

I think, like with the Saratoga registry, that Mr. Okuda goofed, and wrote down the wrong registry for the Encyclopedia.
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Old July 22 2012, 03:41 AM   #3
Dukhat
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

I was having a discussion about this on Flare Forums with some other members, and this is what I think happened:

A member of Flare once emailed Mr. Okuda about the Copernicus, and he replied that he got the ship's name and registry info from a photo by ILM showing the model redressed for Star Trek IV. So I'm assuming that unless the photo wasn't very clear, he saw NCC-623.

So where did NCC-640, which is clearly seen on at least two different shots of the Tsiolkovsky in the remastered TNG, come from, especially when the ship's dedication plaque reads NCC-53911?

(At this point I'd just like to say that this is supposition on my part, and Mr. Okuda is quite welcome to pipe in with the facts if he so chooses )

I think that when Mr. Okuda made that plaque, he was assuming that the Tsiolkovsky would be a new model, a ship contemporaneous to the Enterprise-D, since both ships were launched in the same year according to the plaque's info. If that were the case, then the term "Oberth" was never meant to be the class of the Grissom-type ships, and only became that class retroactively.

It's also possible that the VFX personnel weren't aware of the info on the plaque, and changed the registry from NCC-623 to NCC-640 to be more contemporaneous with the Grissom/Copernicus, and that they thought the Tsiolkovsky was an old ship from Kirk's era.

So we're basically stuck with a ship that has two different registries, one on the physical model itself, and one on the dedication plaque (which was what was printed in the Encyclopedia, since Mr. Okuda co-authored it). To muddy things more, in TNG-R, there's a scene with the Enterprise and the Tsiolkovsky flying together where the NCC-640 was digitally replaced with the NCC-53911 registry, but in other shots the old registry is visible

This could also be why later appearances of the Grissom model sported such high registries: because once the Tsiolkovsky set the precedent, Mr. Okuda just followed through with the same registry nomenclature. It's too bad really, because I think NCC-640 would have fit the Tsiolkovsky much better IMHO.
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Old July 22 2012, 04:13 AM   #4
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

That sounds reasonable, and it reminds me of the issues with there being two apparent Melbournes fighting at W359: the Excelsior model which is quite visibly destroyed in "Emissary" and the already wrecked proto-Nebula model which Greg Jein (IIRC) built for the graveyard in TNG. The best suggestion I've seen regarding the name and registry issues is that the Nebula class Melbourne was a new build intended to replace the older Excelsior class ship, which presumably would have been decommissioned, and it was the Nebula version that was offered to Riker as a command. Then the Borg invaded and both ships were rushed to the battle and were casualties. It's a nice explanation.
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Old July 22 2012, 04:31 AM   #5
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Unicron wrote: View Post
That sounds reasonable, and it reminds me of the issues with there being two apparent Melbournes fighting at W359: the Excelsior model which is quite visibly destroyed in "Emissary" and the already wrecked proto-Nebula model which Greg Jein (IIRC) built for the graveyard in TNG. The best suggestion I've seen regarding the name and registry issues is that the Nebula class Melbourne was a new build intended to replace the older Excelsior class ship, which presumably would have been decommissioned, and it was the Nebula version that was offered to Riker as a command. Then the Borg invaded and both ships were rushed to the battle and were casualties. It's a nice explanation.
It is a nice explanation, but I don't think it really explains why both ships had the exact same registry number, or why an old Excelsior class ship has a number so high. New ships with the same name as an older ship either have a completely different registry number, or in the single case of the Enterprise, have a letter suffix.

It would have made more sense for the Excelsior to have a reg of 6204 or 2043.
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Old July 22 2012, 05:03 AM   #6
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Perhaps the registry was to be carried over, with an eventual letter or perhaps a II after the name (something FASA was fond of doing)? I know some sources would argue that this sort of honor was only ever given to the Enterprise, but on a personal level I'm not sure it wouldn't extend to other vessels as well.

I was never really comfortable with a lot of the TNG era Excelsior numbers, to be honest, as very few of them ever actually fell within the 2xxx range. If they're intended to represent some sort of chronological number of the ship being built or commissioned, they just seem way off.
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Old July 22 2012, 05:35 AM   #7
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Unicron wrote: View Post
Perhaps the registry was to be carried over...
And that would be fine... if the Excelsior didn't already have a ridiculously high number (thanks to the number on the Nebula model).

I was never really comfortable with a lot of the TNG era Excelsior numbers, to be honest, as very few of them ever actually fell within the 2xxx range. If they're intended to represent some sort of chronological number of the ship being built or commissioned, they just seem way off.
I was not comfortable with that either. At the beginning of TNG, it seemed that, while still in use, the Excelsior class was just an old out-of-date class that was more often than not just couriers; rendesvousing with the Enterprise-D to drop off or pick up VIPs. The first few Excelsiors we saw had four-digit 2XXX registries (even the Hood in EaF), and they never got up to more than a 1XXXX registry number even though that's pretty high. Then along comes Deep Space Nine and now we have old Excelsiors and Mirandas with registries of 3XXXX and 4XXXX. And a LOT of them.

This is why I no longer believe that registries are chronological. Okuda himself entertained the notion that the numbers are in fact "batch" numbers, meant to represent a certain batch of ship construction numbers rather than a chronological scheme based on time of production. That's how we can explain that the more-advanced Ambassador Class has lower numbers than the majority of the Excelsior classes; "batch 2XXXX" actually came after "Batch "4XXXX." This actually makes more sense to me.
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Old July 22 2012, 02:41 PM   #8
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

I tend to prefer that myself, as that's often how I've seen registries done in various technical sources. Most of those do seem to have a hint of chronology, in the sense that each batch is usually associated with a specific class and it's unlikely to be reused (though not impossible) outside of that batch. And there are certainly examples of specific registries being shifted around when it was decided to modify the class of the ships being built, as happens in Mastercom's Ships of the Star Fleet.
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Old July 22 2012, 06:50 PM   #9
Boris Skrbic
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Registry numbers aren't perfectly chronological, of course, but I'd be vary of suggesting that five-digit numbers are from the same era as four-digit numbers. That's probably not what Okuda had in mind. We just have to accept that Starfleet classes do have long lifespans, especially since we know they're constantly being upgraded internally (TNG-style warp drives, TNG-style control panels, etc., all because it's easier to reuse TNG sets than to recreate movie sets). A hull shape is a hull shape, and if it remains optimal for a specific purpose, no need to change it.
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Old July 22 2012, 08:15 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

It would be fun to learn that NCC-640 had been right all along, as that would remove some overlap with the good old Cygnus class... But considering how Mike Okuda got his information, it does look like the model underwent some refitting between ST4 and TNG.

It's nice to have all this ambiguity in both the versions of the TNG episode, as I, too, would like to believe in NCC-640 in my personal delusionverse. OTOH, there are plenty of other Oberths with five-digit registries (either exactly known or fuzzily glimpsed) to support the idea of ongoing 24th century construction of the type. Or perhaps major reworking, which involves decommissioning and recommissioning.

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Old July 23 2012, 08:58 PM   #11
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Maybe the thing broke a nacelle and they've simply found a VERY old spare..
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Old July 23 2012, 10:09 PM   #12
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

Timo wrote: View Post
It's nice to have all this ambiguity in both the versions of the TNG episode, as I, too, would like to believe in NCC-640 in my personal delusionverse. OTOH, there are plenty of other Oberths with five-digit registries (either exactly known or fuzzily glimpsed) to support the idea of ongoing 24th century construction of the type. Or perhaps major reworking, which involves decommissioning and recommissioning.
There are four Oberths with 5XXXX registries:

1. Tsiolkovsky (NCC-640 on the model, NCC-53911 on the dedication plaque), built in 2363.

2. An unnamed Oberth (referred to as the Cochrane in the Encyclopedia) shown on two occasions, with the registry NCC-59318 printed on the model.

3. Biko NCC-50331, although because it's just stock footage of the Cochrane, the 59318 registry can be seen.

4. Pegasus NCC-53847, built in 2358.


While I don't feel like getting into this argument again, I just want to say that I personally feel that having Oberths constructed for 80+ years while at the same time other, more advanced ship classes were being designed and built, is ludicrous. And it's all because of the disconnect between the Art Department and the VFX Department in "The Naked Now" (and partially because the studio was too cheap to construct a new model for the Tsiolkovsky, but at least I can understand their rationale; they didn't want to spend money building new models if the show was going to get cancelled after the first season...which it probably would have if it weren't syndicated).
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Old July 24 2012, 12:30 AM   #13
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

It might seem less ludicrous if we assume that newer build Oberths might incorporate upgrades and so forth, and be essentially "new" ships in an older hull. I can see where constantly reusing the same models gives the impression of cheapness to the fans, but on the flip side I can also see where futuristic technology might extend the life span of a unit far more than is the case now. The Battletech universe seems to do this frequently, with many designs having seen up to a century or more of service, albeit not in a single model usually.
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Old July 24 2012, 06:21 AM   #14
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

The first time I learned that there was a Cochrane was in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion. A casualty list from DS9 confirms the connection between the Cochrane and NCC-59318.

The Biko was identified in the first, or second, edition of the Encyclopedia as a Cheyenne-class starship, which might explain the registry.

In the first edition of the Encyclopedia, the second Grissom was classified as a Oberth-class starship with a registry of NCC-59314. The entry included a diagram of the ship.

Later editions of the Encyclopedia claim that the Raman was an Oberth-class starship with a registry of NCC-59983. This both contradicts what was shown on the screen (NCC-29487) and the original intentions of the production staff who wanted to build a new model but were stopped by a budget shortfall (ST: TNG Companion).

The reason I am skeptical about the Copernicus is that Mr. Okuda so thoroughly botched the registry on the Saratoga. In the encyclopedia, he gave us, not one, but two erroneous registries. We know from Drex Files that video existed of the Saratoga when it was delivered to the TNG production staff.

From my understanding of Season 1, ILM handled the effects work for the pilot, then a different VFX house took over the reins for the rest of the season. With the schedule they had, why would they spend time in re-doing the registry? (The registry of the Copernicus is obscured by bright spot lights which mask the registry. I have always found that odd.)
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Old July 24 2012, 07:51 PM   #15
Ian Keldon
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Re: USS Copernicus, NCC-640 or 623?

My theory on registry numbers is a bit complex, but I'll try to make it as plain as possible:

1) I posit that the NCC number represents a "hull number" (I like the old Naval Construction Contract idea). Each ship is assigned a unique hull number at the time the contract is made. The ship ordinarily will keep that number throughout it's operational life, even after significant refit (which explains registries like Constellation's1017).

2) Not all ships of a single class or type have contiguous registries. Aside from refits (Constellation again), special case exceptions (Enterprise, Defiant [DS9]), the production run of a given ship type may be broken up into "blocks" or "flights". Starfleet might issue contracts for 10 Constitution (refit) class heavy cruisers in 2272, for example, then in 2282 issue 10 more. The later 10 hulls would have the hull numbers for the next 10 available "slots" in the construction schedule, whatever those numbers might be.

3) Contract numbers proceed in ascending order from the inauguration of Starfleet (Federation version). The first Federation starship hull was NCC-01, and the numbers rose from there.

A side note about potential discrepancies, such as Excelsior, who was depicted as being a "new" ship in 2285 despite having a registry lower than those known to be in use over a decade earlier (such as Entente's2120). I submit that the "Great Experiment" spent all that time as a "hangar queen" as the Corps of Engineers tinkered with her transwarp drive. The reactions of Kirk and Scotty in particular suggest that they were well aware of the ship, and had a certain amount of amused disdain towards it. This would be consistent with a ship that the "yard birds" had been promising would be "ready any time now" for quite some time.
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