I have 6 ships at the moment. I don't want to rename any of them, but I do want to change their registry numbers. However for some unknown reason the game is not letting me rename any ship at all. I have tried in space, on Earth Spacedock, at Starfleet Academy, and nothing seems to work. Every time I try it gives me the whole "first is free" and I have a little over 32,000 energy credits. What's going on? Any help would be appreciated.
It’s been discussed in the past the average lifespan of Starship Classes. This is the length of time that a starship design and class (with refits over time) remains in service. Generally, this time is calculated by taking the first appearance of a starship, to the last on-screen appearance. This has led to some wildly long times for some Federation starship classes existing, notably the Miranda-Class Coffin and the Oberth-Class flying canoe.
However, equally so it’s been said that determining exactly how long individual starship hulls last is an exercise in futility. So let’s have some fun with an exercise in futility. Let’s try and see if we can determine how long an individual Starship hull is designed to last, including all regular maintenance, refits, and revisions. As long as it’s the same hull, we’ll count it.
Note: There is incredibly little data that is for sure on this matter. Most of this data is conjecture or thrown together estimates from multiple sources. Your mileage may differ, please contact your nearest Advanced Starship Design Bureau office for details.
Part 1: Known Facts
There are, in fact, some generally-accepted, or even canonical sources for how long a particular ship lasted, or how long a design was made to last. Shockingly, some Starships we see on screen actually make it to retirement, instead of being exploded, time traveled, abandoned, or just go missing in action.
The first data point we can reliably determine is the Enterprise, NX-01. This ship was launched in 2151 and retired in 2161, resulting in a lifespan of 10 standard Earth years. The progenitor for many Federation designs, and with a modest lifespan, she is the beginning of a rapid era of expansion in the newly-minted Federation.
The next data point we can take as a certainty comes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, which states that the Galaxy-class Spaceframe had an approximate design lifespan of 100 years, with maintenance and refits every 20 years. The Galaxy-class blueprints themselves have blocked off areas designed for future expansion. While it may seem shocking, even mid-2000’s era naval vessels have been known to last more than 50 years, with appropriate maintenance.
Finally, and the least “for sure” date of the “known” guesses, the Constitution-Class. The best sources of data we have for this ship are, unsurprisingly, once again the Enterprise. Launched in 2245, under Captain Robert April, she met her end in 2285 around the Genesis Planet. This gave her a service lifespan of 40 years, with her replacement, a Constitution-Refit class, lasting another 20 years before Starfleet predominantly appeared to retire the class in favor of newer ships of the line, such as the Excelsior class. A few older ships were known to exist well into the 24th century, fighting (and dying) at Wolf 359, however, this ship was likely the outlier. If we assume the Enterprise-A was not a new hull design, and simply a repurposed or renamed existing hull, it is reasonable to assume around a 50-year lifespan. (The renaming of ships from existing ships is a known event, such as the USS Sao Paulo being renamed back to the Defiant)
Part 2: Reasonable Guesses
As nice as it would be to have solid dates on more ships, there are some ships that we can reasonably ascertain approximate ages for. One such ship is the USS Trial, NCC-1948. This Miranda-Class vessel was known to be in operation as late as 2374, however, that does not tell us the true age of the ship… or does it?
The designation, 1948, is only 84 off from a ship we do know an approximate commissioning date for, the USS Reliant, NCC-1864. The Reliant was in service by, at a minimum, 2267. Given this information, we can attempt to lock down an approximate launch year for the Trial by using a third starship, the USS Ahwahnee, NCC-2048. This ship, 184 higher than the Reliant, was in service by at minimum 2293. Thus, if we assume those two dates, and divide 184 by 26 years, we can determine that TOS and the immediate preceding timeframe had the approximate building capability of around 7 Starships a year. This is a leap, but if we assume this number to be true, it means that the USS Trial entered service around 15 years after the construction of the USS Reliant, entering the fleet around 2282. A lifespan of around 2282 to 2374 is an impressive 92 years in the fleet. Even if we assume this number is artificially high due to the Dominion War and needing more active ships, it proves the resiliency and dedication of the designers that the design could last that long in an operational state.
Finally, for this section, we have the Excelsior-Class. Ever the reliable workhorse, these ships entered service with the USS Excelsior, NCC-2000 in the 2280s, and continued to serve in the fleet well into the 2370s, at least through 2378 in the Sol Home Fleets, although as said earlier it is generally unreasonable to assume the same ships were in service from start to end. Or is it?
Enter the USS Repulse, NCC-2544. This ship is only 544 registry numbers higher than the USS Excelsior, and so can be assumed to be coming around in the same era. I’m intentionally disregarding my own math from earlier, as the starship building capability of the fleet would increase as a function of time as the Federation grew and new technology was introduced. This increase is needed as by the battle of Wolf 359, 39 ships could be destroyed in a single encounter, and these losses could be coped with even added on top of the regular retirement schedule of ships. As Commander Shelby herself said the fleet would be back up to regular levels in only around a year. Additionally, the jump in numbers from registry codes in the thousands to the tens of thousands between TOS and the later eras means that an explosion in starship production must have occurred somewhere, so here’s as good a place as any to assign that event. This would mean that the Repulse is only a bit younger than the Excelsior herself. Regardless of age, we do know that a properly treated Excelsior-class can throw down with the best of them, such as the USS Lakota facing off with the USS Defiant and able to pose a serious adversary.
Once again, we must assign the Dominion War some blame for older, out-of-spec ships being fielded and the Repulse being around or just under 90 years old, however, if we assume this is a reactivated mothball ship and atypically long for its age, we can accept the general consensus that the Excelsior-class was designed with an 80-year service life in mind.
So, to recap so far, we have the NX-Class at 10 years per hull, the Constitution-class at 50 years per hull, a designed
lifespan of 90 years for the Miranda-class, an assumed 80 years for the Excelsior, and 100 years for the Galaxy-class frame.
Part 3: “Modern” Craft
Note: As these facts are the least certain, they are marked with ORANGE on the graph below.
When plotted on This Graph
, you can see a trend established that each ship, in general, is designed to last longer per ship as time goes on. Thus, let’s take some known ships and fit them to the trend line to see what fits.
First, the Nova-Class. We only have two named Nova-classes I could think of for this section, the USS Equinox, NCC-72381, and the USS Rhode Island, NCC-72701. Approximately 320 registry numbers apart, these ships can be assumed to have come out relatively near each other, if we assume that the Enterprise’s numbering scheme is a one-off (as suggested by the TNG Technical Manual) and renumberings (such as Defiant) are rare.
For a moment, however, let’s look again at how many ships the Federation can pump out when they want to. The Equinox was launched in 2370, and the USS Sao Paulo, NCC-75633, was launched just 5 years later in 2375. These two ships are around 3525 ships apart in 5 years, resulting in the Federation being able by this point to belt out 650 ships per year, an incredible number. Although later refitted from the default Nova class by the time we see her in 2404, this would suggest that the Rhode Island and Equinox rolled off the line in the same year, 2370. Thus, we know that the Nova-class (and subsequent refits) were in service at least for 34 years, and it can easily be assumed, following the previously established Federation strategy, she will last well into the future. Placing her on the trend line of the graph above would place her somewhere in the rage of 115 years per hull, likely give or take another 10 years. This is pure conjecture, however, and the true estimate may be much shorter or even longer.
Next, the Prometheus-Class. While one might assume that purpose-built warships may have a shorter service life than other vessels such as scientific research vessels, we know that the Federation has never had an issue throwing older models at the enemy en masse to see what sticks. Rolling off the assembly line in 2374, the Prometheus-class is known to be in service well into the 2550s, if Daniels can be believed. It is unreasonable to assume this is the same ship, however, refits and generational enhancements mean that it is theoretical that one of the last produced Prometheus-class models is still in service. Plotting on the line, similar to above, would place the Prometheus-class at approximately 115 years of design lifespan per hull, however, this estimate is also conjecture.
Part 4: Issues
If you look at a graph, a few issues become apparent. Firstly, the Miranda-class deathtrap seemingly is designed to last forever, although few ships of the type ever seem to make it to retirement. It is entirely possible that the source for this data point, the USS Trial, is an extreme oddity, or that the ship was simply sitting in mothballs before being reactivated, slumbering for 20-odd years before being thrust back into the fleet hurriedly to confront the Dominion. Ultimately, the reasons for this cannot be known. Ultimately, this must just be left to speculation.
Additionally, it can easily be assumed eventually there will be a limit to how long ship hulls can be designed for. If I took this data and expanded it out to 3069, when The Burn takes place, or even beyond, it would say that a top-of-the-line, rolled off the assembly line that day starship would be designed with a 500-year lifespan, which is more than a little insane. Eventually, the length of time that a ship hull can be designed for will approach a limit, but what exactly that limit is remains truly unknown. If I had to guess, I would assume the drop-off point is around 120 years, with a practical maximum life even with updates and refits and retrofits to be around 100 years of practical service. However, given the resources needed to produce a Starship, and the investment in design, crew, and production, designing ships to last as long as possible is logical.
Finally, the Enterprise. NCC-1701, with a bloody A if you don’t mind. Retired at the ripe old age of 20, I said earlier that I will assume the ship was simply repurposed or renamed. This, however, is a point of contention, as the Enterprise-A is referred to as a “new” ship. Perhaps it was new...ly refitted? Was the hull itself an older hull, and most if not all of her internals replaced or refurbished? Ultimately Star Trek III throws a lot of issues into the works, and be it lazy screenwriting or a simple mistake, it leaves a lot of questions.
As has been pointed out in other places, Procyon V may not be truly reliable in determining the age of ships. While we see ships like the Prometheus and Nova classes, they could simply be out of time, like Archer himself was, so using this as a data point again is simply an assumption.
If you’re looking for a good breakdown on how long ship CLASSES lasted, from their introduction to when the last one retired, I highly recommend this post, which was partially the inspiration for writing this: https://www.reddit.com/DaystromInstitute/comments/6w98yh/what_is_the_average_lifespan_of_a_starship/
Ultimately, a lot of this is conjecture that will never truly be known. This has been an attempt to piece together what we do know, and have some fun with numbers on what it could mean for the Federation and for Star Trek. Simply put, they don’t make the resources like they used to, and we’ll likely never have another great detailed work of canon like the TNG Technical Manual and those like it. Many of these ships and classes were never really fleshed out, and little bits of errors and data could never be kept track of over the broad history of Trek.
Thank you for reading this far down, and thank you for any thoughts anyone has on the topic.