In the Federation and beyond, spacecraft are registered with names and numbers, both sometimes carrying a prefix signifying the operating authority of the vessel. The prefixes, names and registry numbers are painted onto the hull of the craft for identification purposes. This registry number is usually a combination of letters (the registry prefix, which generally indicates the type or ownership of a craft) followed by a sequence of numbers.
Active duty Starfleet vessels have a registry beginning with the letters NCC (see: Federation starship registries), while experimental ships usually have an NX registry prefix. Civilian vessels have varying registry prefixes.
A registry prefix should not be confused with a ship's prefix code.
Registry number prefix Edit
Cultures that use registry codes often add prefixes to the numbers, a prefix of alphabetical characters for example.
- The meanings of these codes are based on empirical evidence only -- they might "really" have much different designations.
- BDR - Federation civilian, colony transport
- ChR - Rihannsu Grand Fleet
- CV - Earth, US Navy aircraft carrier
- CVN - Earth, US Navy nuclear powered aircraft carrier
- KL - Klingon Imperial Deep Space Fleet
- NAR - Federation civilian
- Originally Earth civilian
- NC - Earth Starfleet
- NCC - Federation Starfleet, active duty
- NCD - Iyaaran shuttle
- NCV - Federation Starfleet, timeship (29th century)
- NDT - Federation civilian, transport
- NFT - Federation civilian, transport
- NGL - Federation civilian, freighter
- NSP - Federation science vessel (Vulcan)
- NX, NCX - Federation Starfleet, prototype (Excelsior-class, Yamato-class)
- Formerly Earth Starfleet, NX class
- NXP - Federation Starfleet, prototype (Defiant-class pathfinder)
- OV - Earth, U.S. (NASA) space shuttle orbital vehicle
- "V8 5047 01102238345-8" - Vulcan warpsled shuttle Surak
- XCV - Earth (probably U.S.), starship.
- YLT - Yridian vessel
Aside from the registry prefixes, Starfleet at one time also used letters after the main registry prefix to further define specific types of craft. An example of this is the freighter USS Huron, with its registry of NCC-F1513.
- According to the novels of Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, Klingon starships use a "KL" registry prefix. Diane Duane's Rihannsu novels give the prefix "ChR" for Romulan starships
Ship name prefix Edit
A ship name prefix is a series of letters that precede a ship's name, and are used to indicate the vessel's purpose and origin.
The Federation appears to be the primary adherent to this system, although there have been instances where other races have appeared to use this system as well.
|Federation (Merchant Service)||FMS²||Federation Merchant Service (?)|
|Federation (Civilian)||SS||Space/Star Ship|
|Federation (Starfleet)||USS||United Space/Star Ship|
|Terran Empire||ISS||Imperial Space/Star Ship|
|Klingon Empire (Defense Force)||IKC||Imperial Klingon Cruiser|
|Klingon Empire (Defense Force)||IKS||Imperial Klingon Ship|
|Romulan Star Empire (Imperial Navy)||IRW||Imperial Romulan Warbird|
|Romulan Star Empire (Imperial Navy)||PWB||Praetorian Warbird|
|Earth (Earth Cargo Service)||ECS||Earth Cargo Ship/Service|
|Earth (British Royal Navy)||HMS¹||His/Her Majesty's Ship|
|Earth (Civilian)||SS||Space/Star Ship|
|Earth (American)||USS³||United States Ship ?|
|Earth (Russian)||VK¹||see Background section.|
- The name prefixes DEV, VK and HMS are from ships sent to the Ficus sector. (TNG: "Up the Long Ladder")
- The name prefixes FMS and USGS are from ships listed on a Deep Space Nine arrival roster. (DS9: "Whispers")
- With Earth's national prefixes (British HMS and Russian VK) still in use up to the founding of the Federation, it is probable that USS still meant United States Ship in the same timeframe, but we only have one example to look at.
Further speculation removed from the table, would include other Earth national prefixes (Australian HMAS, Canadian HMCS, etc.) also still existing at that time.
Background information Edit
The most famous registry number, of course, is NCC-1701, that of the original Enterprise. It was chosen by Matt Jefferies, who was a pilot before joining the Star Trek staff, and based the registry number on 20th century aircraft identification codes. In the 20th century, the letter "N" indicated a United States origin, and the letter "C" indicated a civilian aircraft. Jefferies added a second "C" simply because he thought it looked better. In some fandom circles, it is claimed that the prefix "NCC" stands for "Naval Construction Contract" (Star Trek Blueprints: General Plans Constitution Class USS Enterprise by Franz Joseph Designs, Ballantine Books, 1974) or "Navigational Contact Code", but there is no canon basis for this conjecture.
VK prefix Edit
Based on usage—VK Yuri Gagarin & VK Velikan—it is probable that the VK prefix means a Russian ship in, pre-Federation, Star Trek. In the real world, the Russians do not use prefixes. But, in the book The Hunt for Red October, the primary Alfa class attack sub is named V.K. Konovalov, in honor of Vladimir Konstantinovich Konovalov.
This suggests that the use of VK as a Russian prefix, is either an error on the part of the Star Trek writers, or an homage to Tom Clancy.