Uncertain Ship Names and Registries
USS Dauntless NX-01-A vs. Enterprise NX-01
It was commonly accepted that Starfleet was founded in 2161, and Starfleet's ship registries consist of NCC plus at least three letters. The USS Dauntless NX-01-A does not fit into this system. Moreover, for some strange reason Enterprise NX-01 has almost the same registry. The old facts (before Star Trek Enterprise):
1. The fake Federation ship "Dauntless" from VOY: "Hope and Fear" bears the registry NX-01-A. The number "01" is completely out of range. Also, the letter "A" points to an Enterprise-like registry scheme like in "NCC-1701-A", in a fashion that the ship honors an old one of the same name. While the second hyphen in "NX-01-A" is on the hull of the CGI model, it is missing on the MSD of the ship. It can be speculated that the label of the diagram was a mistake, since the hull number complies with "NCC-1701-A". In any case the hull number is the stronger evidence, while not so much work would be invested into an MSD, not even on a real ship. Anyway, Arturis, the builder of the "Dauntless", has an extensive knowledge of Federation technology which he can recreate through particle synthesis. No one of the Voyager crew notices that the ship is a fake, neither with the naked eye nor with scanning devices. Considering the perfection of the illusion, how could Arturis make such a stupid mistake with the apparently nonsensical registry?
2. But is "NX-01-A" an error at all? The Voyager crew should be amused about the number. Tuvok, however, does not seem to be very astonished, let alone suspicious reading the illogical registry. A possible explanation could be that the USS Dauntless NCC-01 or NX-01 was the first Starfleet ship when the organization was founded in 2161, and the new slipstream drive prototype was named and numbered in honor of this widely known historical vessel. Everyone of the Voyager crew would be aware that this must be a tip of the hat to the good old Dauntless. The old Dauntless should not have been a class ship, for we may assume that class names are not reused. In this case only NCC-01 would be a possible registry. Considering that there must have been warp-powered starships of the Earth forces (Earth Starfleet or UESPA) before Starfleet was founded, it is only reasonable that already existing ships were assigned new numbers. It might have been the U.E.S. Dauntless BH-90210 of the Paramount class that was renumbered USS Dauntless NCC-01 by pure chance and thus became sort of the first Starfleet ship. If the number NCC-01 on a ship named "Dauntless" is a more or less arbitrary choice, there wouldn't be even a problem with the name that sounds too aggressive for an organization representing peaceful exploration, but not for Earth space forces at war with the Romulans until 2160. The only implausibility is that there is exactly one leading "0". If Starfleet intended all their ships to have two decimal places, didn't they anticipate that there would be far more than 100 ships only a few years later (e.g. USS Horizon NCC-176)?
3. Michael Okuda said that, from his point of view, there is no correlation between the fake Dauntless and any real Starfleet ship, so we can't expect to find the USS Dauntless NCC-01 in a later edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia. Anyway, it is a nice suggestion.
Since it is known that Enterprise NX-01 exists, the nature of the Dauntless problem has changed.
4. First of all, the "NX" in Enterprise NX-01 denotes the class and not an experimental ship like with later Federation Starfleet registries. This means that there would be basically no contradiction between the two registries, since they simply belong to two different systems.
5. On the other hand, with such a prominent ship as Enterprise bearing the registry NX-01, the naming problem remains. Considering how famous Archer's ship must be, the Voyager crew should wonder: "Dauntless NX-01-A? - Wouldn't that suit only a ship called Enterprise?". Enterprise NX-01 could have been renamed to Dauntless some day, so the reference would be correct again, but we know almost for sure this didn't happen (ENT: "These Are The Voyages").
6. Another suggestion is that the registry of Enterprise NX-01 alone, no matter if it fits into Starfleet's current system, could have been reused as a homage - after all, the Dauntless had a completely new propulsion system in 2374 like Enterprise in 2151.
7. Finally, the two different numbering systems wouldn't exclude the existence of yet another ship Dauntless NX-01 or NCC-01. However, we may doubt that this ship would have got a chance to become as famous as Enterprise NX-01. There is a very slim chance it could be acceptable as the name giver of the Dauntless NX-01-A.
The registry of the class ship USS Constitution was NCC-1700, according to the Star Trek Encyclopedia. A computer monitor in TOS: "Space Seed" and in TNG: "Datalore" shows an accordingly numbered ship, although the name is illegible.
NCC-1700 should be the lowest of the class if registries are chronological. The USS Constellation, however, was seen in TOS: "The Doomsday Machine" as a Constitution-class ship with the lower registry NCC-1017. The "Operation Retrieve" chart in the extended version of "Star Trek VI" shows the USS Eagle NCC-956, another Constitution-class ship according to the Encyclopedia. Furthermore, the Encyclopedia lists the following five Constitution-class ships whose registries are apparently too low: USS Essex NCC-1697, USS Excalibur NCC-1664, USS Exeter NCC-1672, USS Potemkin NCC-1657, USS Republic NCC-1371. The latter ships were taken from the wall display in TOS: "Court Martial" and the ship list in Stephen Whitfield, The Making of Star Trek. Although in TOS their names, registries and classes were never seen together, at least the registry NCC-1672 of the Exeter was confirmed in TOS-R: "The Omega Glory", as well as the Intrepid NCC-1631 in TOS-R: "Court-Martial". There are several approaches to explain the registry dilemma:
1. Some theories used to suggest that the ships with low registries were originally of a different, older class (such as the conjectural Declaration class on Joshua Bell's website) and later converted to Constitutions. This seemed possible, especially since the Constellation was represented by a crude AMT model that allowed the interpretation of it being a somewhat different class. Any such theory becomes implausible, however, considering that at least the Constellation in TOS-R: "The Doomsday Machine" does not look a tad different than the Enterprise.
2. The class name might change with each upgrade of the class, so the USS Constitution could have been the first ship of a later, improved batch of the class, which was named after her. The theory is popular among fans, taking into consideration that the Constitution upgrade of 2271 was once labeled as "Enterprise class" in "Star Trek II".
3. There is no evidence that registries are assigned strictly chronologically. Maybe the Constitution-class ships with lower registries were just given numbers that were unoccupied at the time they were commissioned. It is also possible that newly launched ships were assigned the same names and registries as destroyed or retired vessels. Thus, the USS Constellation NCC-1017 might replace a ship of a different class, but with the same name and registry.
4. The USS Constitution NCC-1700 was not the class ship of the Constitution class. The class takes its name from an earlier ship of the same name and a registry below NCC-956, which had been destroyed some time prior to 2245, when both the NCC-1700 and NCC-1701 were commissioned.
Theory #1 is quite complicated, since it extends a simple registry problem to a matter of ship designs. It would raise the problem that the basic construction of the Constitution and eventually the Miranda likewise would be much older, and therefore aggravate the problems of ship building periods. The idea #2 of changing class names is popular in fandom, but there is not enough evidence for it in canonical Trek. It is still another question why the class name that should have been "Constitution class" actually seemed to be "Starship class" during the 2260's. There are some more facts to support theory #3 that registries are not always chronological, but a definite proof is missing. Theory #4 is quite simple and obvious, but like theory #1 it raises the problem of the Constitution class being much older. Considering that the upgraded class might have been still around as late as 2366, it wouldn't be a good idea if the basic design was that old.
Existence of the Enterprise class
A sign on the door of Starfleet's bridge simulator in "Star Trek II" unmistakably says "Mark IV Simulator - Enterprise Class". In fact, the designation "Enterprise class" for the Constitution refit is widespread in fandom for more than 20 years. It also makes a lot of sense for Starfleet to come up with a new name, considering that the refit has hardly anything in common with the original Constitution (see The Enterprise Refit of 2271). The Soyuz, for instance, looks much more like the Miranda than the Constitution and its refit resemble one another. On a different note, it would mean that the Enterprise NCC-1701 was definitely the first vessel to receive this refit, for which hard evidence is missing from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture".
However, there may be reasons why the designation "Enterprise class" should have never existed, or should have been abandoned at some time, considering how many ships named Enterprise we know of. Some fans even believe that Starfleet would not re-use a ship name that has the honor of representing a whole class of vessels. At least as long as the class is still in service, the name should not be available to a vessel of a different class. But with the Galaxy-class Challenger that was most likely commissioned while the Challenger class was still in service we have one precedent. Moreover, wouldn't it be quite appropriate for the honorable name to be transferred to a newly commissioned cutting-edge vessel regardless of its class? And, especially during a war, wouldn't Starfleet re-use names all the time if the previous vessel of a name had been destroyed, just to defy the enemy? So even if it should be a naval tradition to generally disallow class names for new vessels, it may be overruled under certain circumstances. Just like in the case of the Defiant that was replaced with a new vessel with the very same registry, which is definitely the greater oddity as it screws up the whole registry system.
The possible naming conflict of the Enterprise class with Enterprise NX-01 is quickly resolved. We know that, at the time of Earth Starfleet, the NX-01 belongs to the NX class, which also rules out "NX-01" as an experimental registry of the kind of the Excelsior NX-2000 (see USS Dauntless above). Although in Archer's era there is at least one class, the Neptune class, that appears to be named after its lead ship, it seems that simple single letters such as "Y class" and "J class" or letter combinations are common class designation in the mid-22nd century. There is no reason why the designation "NX class" must have been replaced with "Enterprise class" after the foundation of Federation Starfleet, which may rule out the existence of another class with that name over 100 years later. Federation Starfleet may have simply continued to refer to it as "NX class". Regarding the "ring ship" Enterprise XCV-330, we do not know if it is the first of its class and if class names would apply at all, so it is not really a candidate for the lead ship of an alternative Enterprise class.
Evidence of the refit being still named "Constitution class (refit)" comes from the diagram on Scotty's desk in "Star Trek VI", as well as from a display in the class room of DS9, which depicts the original and the refit side by side, both labeled "Constitution class". So the designation "Enterprise class" may have become obsolete very soon after 2284. This does not seem plausible. Maybe, while the basic class is still called "Constitution", the correct designation for the refit would be "Enterprise sub-class".
Summarizing, there is canon evidence of the designation "Enterprise (sub-) class" in the 23rd century. It is a matter of taste whether we lend more credence to the sign on the simulator wall, which may not be quite as official as a ship's dedication plaque, or rather to the paper sheet and the school room display. Regarding ship and class names, we have already accepted more obscure, even apocryphal facts. After "Star Trek VI", the only time that the name "Constitution class" was *almost* spoken out was in TNG: "The Battle", but the name in the already recorded scene was altered to "Constellation class", and the newly built Constellation miniature could be seen as the Stargazer instead of the Enterprise (refit) model. Finally, in TNG: "Relics" Picard refers to the bridge that Scotty holographically created as "Constitution class" (without explicitly calling it the original or pre-refit configuration). The conclusion is rather far-fetched, but this distinction may not have been necessary if the refit was still commonly referred to as "Enterprise class".
Still other theories take into account that the "Enterprise class" label was on the door of the simulator room at Starfleet Academy. So "Enterprise class" might refer to the simulator type, rather than to the actual starship class that it represents. Or even to a class of cadets. Alternatively, "Enterprise class" may stand for the real ship indeed, but since the Enterprise is obviously an Academy training ship at the time, a different naval designation than Starfleet's regular class names may apply. There may be another "class" of training ships called "Republic class", regardless to which ship class the Republic belonged before it was transferred to the Academy.
Yorktown renamed to Enterprise-A?
Was the Yorktown NCC-1717 renamed to Enterprise NCC-1701-A at the end of "Star Trek IV"? USS Yorktown was the name of the starship in Gene Roddenberry's first draft of Star Trek (S. Whitfield, The Making of Star Trek). The Encyclopedia II annotates: "Roddenberry reportedly suggested that the second Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, launched at the end of Star Trek IV, had previously been named the Yorktown, since it seems unlikely that Starfleet could have built an all-new ship so quickly." Although this is only an annotation and not strictly canonical, it makes sense. Interestingly, the entry about the USS Yorktown on which Tuvok's father served says that it's the second ship to bear the name and therefore a different ship than the NCC-1717, so apparently Okuda stuck with Roddenberry's suggestion.
Decommissioning of the Enterprise-A
At the end of "Star Trek VI" the Enterprise senior crew receives the order to be "decommissioned". This has often been interpreted in that the order should refer to the ship. The reason is that usually the word "decommission" wouldn't be used for personnel, but rather for ships and vehicles. Moreover, it doesn't seem plausible that a whole crew would be retired at once although it seems that Kirk, Scott and Chekov are all retired when the Enterprise-B is launched in 2293 ("Star Trek Generations"). On the other hand, Kirk's final log entry in the movie clearly states: "This ship, and her history, will shortly become the care of another crew". It is obvious that "this ship" can only refer to his very command, the Enterprise-A. Even if Kirk already knew of Starfleet's intentions to give the name "Enterprise" to a newly launched ship of the Excelsior class, why should he bother that much about other people on a different ship, only because the name happens to be the same?
Note In a figurative sense, it is obvious that Kirk's log entry was actually a rather awkward reference to the Enterprise-D. In other words, a broad hint to the theater audience that "Star Trek VI" was the last movie with the old ship and crew, with a new movie coming up "shortly". But unless time travel was involved, we wouldn't assume that Kirk knew about a ship 78 years into the future.
The only plausible explanation is that Starfleet's order indeed referred to the senior crew. The decision to decommission the ship as well may have been made after an examination of the battle damage. Technically, a decommissioned ship is not necessarily meant to be mothballed and ultimately scrapped, but may be slated for a refit or extensive repairs as well. Alternatively, the whole Constitution class may have been scheduled for retirement, or the ship may have been renamed to make the name "Enterprise" available to the brand new Excelsior class.
"The ship we called the City of New Orleans"
In the Star Trek Encyclopedia, the footnote (in italics) to the entry for the New Orleans-class starship says "Named for the ship we called the City of New Orleans". It seems to be an in-joke alluding to the song "City of New Orleans" (written by Steve Goodman, performed by Arlo Guthrie) that includes the line "I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans". Many names in Star Trek are actually jokes, so some fans quickly adopted this, claiming that the class ship should be the "USS City of New Orleans". It is not evident why the class and its prototype ship should have different names, and why Starfleet wouldn't simply and briefly name the ship "USS New Orleans". There is one precedent in the real world of the US Navy calling a submarine "City of Corpus Christi" (SSN-705) instead of simply "Corpus Christi" because Christians might be offended that a weapon would be apparently named for the body of Christ. Anyway, if one reads carefully, the Encyclopedia note doesn't even explicitly say that the ship is named "USS City of New Orleans", but is only *named for* a ship with this name. This definitely entitles us to shorten it to "USS New Orleans". The long name is from an annotation in the Encyclopedia anyway and was therefore never meant to be a canonical or only apocryphal reference. Reading the annotations of other entries, they always provide backstage and real-world information and are very often even anti-canon.
Spelling of the USS Br(a/i)ttain
The Miranda-class ship model in TNG: "Night Terrors" was labeled "USS Brittain", whereas the ship's dedication plaque, a monitor, a label on a console and the script of the episode consistently called it "USS Brattain". Either spelling exists as a proper name. The Star Trek Encyclopedia says that "the ship's name on the model was spelt 'Brittain' by mistake.", and the Fact Files state that the ship is named for Walter Brattain, the co-inventor of the transistor, and that the wrong spelling on the hull is an embarrassing error by Starfleet (and not of the model builder). Although the hull marking might be stronger evidence than even the dedication plaque plus script plus Encyclopedia, I am inclined to ignore the hull and go with the original intention that the ship was intended to be named "USS Brattain", so Starfleet didn't misspell anything. BTW: Although it is still not corrected in the third edition of the Encyclopedia, the Brattain definitely has a rollbar.
Spelling of the USS Jenol(a,e,i)n
No less than three possible spellings are suggested for the Sydney-class starship that was found crashed on the Dyson Sphere in TNG: "Relics" - with Scotty still being in the transporter buffer.
1. The studio model was labeled "USS Jenolin". The name was too small to be identified in the episode, but there exist a couple of photos of the miniature. An Altavista web search yielded only very few non-Trek hits for the search term "Jenolin", including the name of an old sailing ship.
2. The Star Trek Encyclopedia identifies the ship as "USS Jenolen". There were nothing but Trek-related hits in a web search for "Jenolen".
3. An Okudagram on the ship reads "USS Jenolan". In this case the ship could be named for the Jenolan Caves in New South Wales, Australia, some 140km west of Sydney(!). Bull's eye! Larry Nemecek's TNG Companion confirms this. Ron D. Moore who wrote the episode went to visit the caves just after a convention in Sydney. He must have been very impressed, but later on the spelling was lost and became "Jenolen" in the second half of the script, and finally "Jenolin".
"Jenolan" was the original intention, and the erroneous spellings on the model itself and the Encyclopedia are due to the fact that the pronunciation is all the same. Still, there is no ultimate answer to the question which spelling is canon. After all, the labeling error could still be explained in a way that either "Jenolen" or "Jenolin" might be an alien name or a Terran name that will become important within the next 300 years. I propose to stick to the meaningful name, though.
4. Aside from the three above possible spellings, there is even a fourth one. I was contacted by a person (apparently a girl) with the first name "Jenolyn", named for a race horse at the Assiniboia Downs Race Track in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the years 1969 and 1970.
Registry of the USS Nash
There are photos of the Sydney-class studio model with the modified lettering "USS Nash NCC-2010-5" in the Cinefantastique Magazine (December '94). This was previously believed to be "NCC-2010-B". With a better image available, it is now clearly readable as "USS Nash NCC-2010-5".
The registry was initially "USS Jenolin NCC-2010" (see above) in TNG "Relics". The Nash probably appeared as the "upside-down ship" in DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations". There are no other canonical ships using a second-level number in their registry. The meaning of this numbering scheme is mysterious. Maybe smaller ships are or were sometimes built in batches with the same primary and different secondary registries. A similar explanation would be that both ships could be assigned as supply ships to a larger vessel with the registry "NCC-2010". In either case, however, why does the Jenolan have a seemingly unique registry? Wouldn't the first ship of the batch be numbered "NCC-2010-1"?The way it is, the Jenolan almost appears as the mother ship of the Nash, which is impossible because the Jenolan was missing for 75 years and later destroyed. The worst thing about it is that the different letter sizes and arrangement show that the label of the Nash is completely new, not just a "5" added to the old number. Either the modeler had not the faintest idea of how starships are numbered and just assumed that it should look like derived from the "prototype" Jenolan, or it is some kind of weird in-joke. In any case, fortunately this number was not readable on screen and need not be taken as canonical.
Origin of the name Wambundu
There is a Wambundu class of starships, but no one seems to have a clue where the name comes from. I have not yet found conclusive evidence in an encyclopedia or atlas. Chris St.John found one not Trek-related website mentioning "Wambundu": a catalog of papers from the late anthropologist Anthony Forge, who did a study of tribes in Papua New Guinea in the late 50s/early 60s. The specific reference was to a color slide of fieldwork labeled "Mango at Wambundu, 1958 - 1963." Chris contacted the Papua New Guinea government via e-mail and received the following reply:
"Forge organised a symposium in Switzerland in 1984. The papers were collected and printed in Sepik Heritage - Tradition and Change in Papua New Guinea, 1990, by Carolina Academic Press, North Carolina. This may have some references to Wambundu. In the traditional context Wambundu has a number of meanings. Wam means end and bundu means man. So wambundu may mean for example end man or end of man. Wambundu also may refer to a traditional mask/basket worn by men during initiation rites."
A more recent search showed that there is a tribe called the Wambundu at the Congo river near Kinshasa. It seems most likely that someone of the writer staff read this name somewhere, rather than the obscure Wambundu from Papua New Guinea, and thought it would be cool for a ship class.
USS Melbourne: Excelsior vs. Nebula
When Ed Miarecki built the first two study models of the Nebula class (entirely composed of Enterprise-D model kits), he labeled both of them "USS Melbourne NCC-62043". One of the models was destroyed by Mike Okuda and appeared in the graveyard scene of TNG: "Best of Both Worlds" (BoBW); the second one showed up as a desktop model on two later occasions. When the Wolf 359 battle scene was filmed for DS9: "Emissary", the only model from BoBW to be re-used was the damaged Nebula-Melbourne. However, the visual effects crew took the more detailed Excelsior studio model for close shots, and they gave it the very same name and registry "USS Melbourne NCC-62043". Naturally only one of these two can be authentic. Here are some options:
1. The Nebula class is the one and only USS Melbourne NCC-62043, although this is never legible on screen. This solution disregards the definite evidence of the labeling on the Excelsior class. However, it is also undeniable that the high registry much rather befits the Nebula, for which it was originally conceived.
Also, Shelby's line from BoBW mentioning the Melbourne, while the destroyed Nebula class is actually on the viewscreen, would make sense. We need to consider that this Nebula-class ship was the only one that we know of at Wolf 359, while there was at least the Roosevelt as another Excelsior class, not to mention the various "Excelsior prototypes". Considering that Shelby would hardly recognize the Excelsior-Melbourne, whose registry was blown away as seen in "Emissary", she must have meant the Nebula-class vessel.
Another reason not to disregard the Nebula-Melbourne is the appearance of this ship as a dedication model in "Riker's future" in TNG: "Future Imperfect". It may be taken as a cue that this was indeed the ship that Will was supposed to take command of. Since the whole simulation was created probing his mind, the Melbourne could be found there as well, inaccuracies (nacelle placement) included.
2. The Excelsior class is the one and only USS Melbourne NCC-62043, although the registry is way too high for a ship of this class. After all the number was readable in DS9: "Emissary", while the Nebula in BoBW couldn't even be identified as such before we did some research on the ship models.
3. The Excelsior was labeled as USS Melbourne NCC-62043 and may have been slated to be retired. Riker was definitely offered the newly built Nebula-class Melbourne, whose number is unknown and may be something around NCC-70000. When the Borg approached Earth, this new vessel was rushed into service.
This solution would allow both ships to be named Melbourne, and it would account for Shelby's and Riker's shock when they spotted the destroyed Nebula-Melbourne in BoBW. But it still wouldn't explain the high registry of the Excelsior-Melbourne, which insinuates that it is relatively new. Maybe its registry was raised after a major refit? But why was this new ship supposed to be replaced so soon? Maybe it was just going to be renamed?
4. The Excelsior was actually labeled as USS Melbourne *NCC-2043* and may have been slated to be retired or renamed. Riker was offered the newly built Nebula-class Melbourne NCC-62043. This number was obviously designed to pay tribute to the precursor. One objection to this theory is that once we partially ignore the screen evidence of the Excelsior-Melbourne, we could just as well declare that it was differently labeled altogether.
Summarizing, option #1 may appear implausible due to the much better screen evidence of the Excelsior-Melbourne, while #2 works only if we ignore the graveyard scene from BoBW. Explanations #3 and #4 take into account the most pieces of evidence, but perhaps it is still a stretch to assume that two Melbournes were present, of which one was supposed to replace the other.
USS Melbourne: Admiral Hanson's flagship?
Regardless of the ship's class (see above) it has often been suggested that the Melbourne was Admiral Hanson's vessel. However, there is no evidence that Hanson was on this ship during the battle. Actually, the original version of the script calls for a Galaxy-class bridge to represent Hanson's flagship, whose name and class is not further specified. The only special thing about the Melbourne seems to be that Riker was offered command of this ship.
Yet, the particular dismay when Commander Shelby spots the Melbourne in the debris field of Wolf 359 seems to indicate that there is something more about this vessel. Also, the late-23rd-century style "Red Alert" screen seen on the Melbourne suggests that it belongs to an older class of vessels. Since the Excelsior-class Melbourne is the only candidate of a ship of this age that was visible in any of the two Wolf 359 episodes, we can surmise that Hanson was on this ship although a real proof is missing.
Registry of the USS Prometheus
When VOY: "Message in a Bottle" was being produced, Mike Okuda intended the registry of the brand new prototype ship USS Prometheus to be NX-74913, as it appears on the ship's MSD and on the dedication plaque. The 3D modelers at Foundation Imaging, on the other hand, were not aware of this decision and put NX-59650 on the ship's hull. The latter registry is clearly readable in contrast to the obscure MSD and plaque, however, it would be way too low for a newly launched vessel in 2374.
According to Star Trek Communicator - Issue 152, the Prometheus was redesignated NX-74913 after Stardate 51461, right before the date the Prometheus was hijacked by Romulans. It is clear that swapping the small labels on the MSDs and even the dedication plaque would have been rather effortless compared to repainting the hull. So Starfleet may have decided to launch the ship as it is, and postpone the formal act of changing the hull number.
The question, however, remains why the ship received the apparently too low registry NX-59650 in the first place. Unless we allege that Starfleet made the same embarrassing mistake as the Voyager production crew, the low number must be on the ship for a specific reason. Maybe to confuse Romulan spies? Or because the hull number of a multi-vector assault vessel was issued a long time before the production of the Prometheus actually started?
The Nebula-class Prometheus NCC-71201 shown in DS9: "Second Sight" is in conflict with the Prometheus-class vessel of the same name. The Nebula-Prometheus must have been renamed or destroyed (rather not decommissioned) in the about four years between the two episodes to allow the newly commissioned vessel to inherit its name. If NX-74913 is the correct registry of the latter, then destruction is the more likely option, because a huge Nebula-class vessel would rather not be forced to give up its name. If, however, the Prometheus class has been on the drawing board for decades with a reserved registry NX-59650 (even if it was only temporary), the Nebula-Prometheus may have been christened with reservation.
A ship of the Prometheus class also appears in VOY: "Endgame", and most likely it is the USS Prometheus herself. We are not able to make out the ship's registry, but we can surmise it would have been changed, had it been intended to be legible.
Name prefix of the Raven
In VOY: "Raven", the ship of the Hansens was the S.S. Raven NAR-32450, with a non-standard dedication plaque labeled "The Raven". The civilian registry and the corresponding prefix seemed to be correct, since the Hansens were no Starfleet members, they had no Starfleet crew, no official mission, and the ship may have been their private property. In VOY: "Dark Frontier", however, the vessel appeared on displays as "USS Raven", while the registry remained NAR-32450. Even Magnus Hansen himself identified the ship as "USS Raven" in his log entries.
There seems to be a contradiction between the two episodes, and if "Dark Frontier" overrules the previous episode we have to wonder why the ship bears a Starfleet "USS" prefix with a civilian registry. The Star Trek Encyclopedia III doesn't help in any way, since it lists the ship as "USS Raven" and remains silent about the previous "S.S." prefix. A possible explanation can be found in "Dark Frontier" itself, considering that the mission was approved of by the Federation Council briefly before the Hansens departed. Now operating on behalf of Starfleet, the ship's designation in official records (like Voyager's database) may have been quickly changed to "USS", while the "S.S." on the hull and the unusual dedication plaque remained unchanged, as well as the registry number.
Strangely, the Hansens' ship's name is given as the "Jefferies" on a display in VOY: "The Gift". Either the vessel's name was switched from Jefferies to Raven (Starfleet may already have had a USS Jefferies) along with the registry and the outpost was still using an old database, or the Hansens were there in disguise.
Galaxy successor vs. Nova class
The TNG Technical Manual mentions a possible Galaxy-class successor called Nova class: "Starfleet Command, through its Advanced Starship Design Bureau, is already considering concepts for the proposed Nova class." In VOY: "Equinox", however, Janeway calls the small planetary research vessel USS Equinox "Nova class". How can two classes have the same name, for the small Nova class can't be the successor of the Galaxy class? The engineering team of the small research ship might have "stolen" the name from the big project. The Galaxy-class successor might have been only tentatively named "Nova" by the ASDB. After all, the class can't be expected to enter service until two decades later. Maybe "Nova" (=new) is even used as a generic name for every new starship class. Finally, strictly speaking the TNGTM is not canon but only apocryphal. Anything stated in the book may be overruled by episode evidence.
I am grateful for the immense help by countless people at the Flare Sci-fi Forums where such weird stuff is under permanent discussion. Likewise I would like to thank Frank for archiving it at theSWDAO. Special thanks to Boris S., Masao and Dave for several additional facts and suggestions and to Chris St. John for his Wambundu research. Thanks to Adam Newton and Matthew Wilkinson for facts and suggestions about the USS Nash. Thanks also to Tom Mendel, who pointed out changes about the NX-01-A issue to me, to Brian Hunter for considerations about Hanson's flagship, to Ambassador aka Ensign_Q who came up with new options regarding the Melbourne class issue and the Enterprise class, to Rick Perreault and Andy L for the Enterprise-A decommissioning problem, to Chris Moore and UBF for ideas about the Enterprise class and to Paul for correcting me about the USS Raven. Special thanks to Memory Alpha for new information pertaining to the Prometheus registry issue.
Starship Registries - Do the NCC numbers make any sense?
Ships, Shuttles & Starbases @ Spike's Star Trek Page
for a complete annotated list by ship names