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Call letters, or a call sign, was a radio identifier used for identifying a starship. This identifier was an alphanumeric sequence. Ships carried in their library computer's database a listing of the call letters of most registered ships and planets. Ships operating in neutral space that used call letters weren't always known by name. When a ship was in distress, it was customary for that ship to include its call letters in the distress call. When a ship was acting friendly, it was customary for it to transmit its call sign. An official organization assigned a unique call sign to each ship.

In 2254, the USS Enterprise was able to identify a radio-interference distress call as coming from the SS Columbia based on that ship's call letters. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part I")

In 2256, the shuttle DSC 01 had the call sign "Disco-1". (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

In 2265, the Enterprise was able to identify a distress call as coming from the SS Valiant based on that ship's call letters. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

The final revised draft script for the episode had the call letters for the Valiant as VAL 115. [1]

Just under a century later, in 2364, the USS Enterprise-D received no call letters from the USS Stargazer as the cruiser approached the larger ship. (TNG: "The Battle")

A year later, in 2365, the Enterprise received the call sign of the Erstwhile as the cargo ship approached the larger ship. (TNG: "The Outrageous Okona")

A call sign was a radio identifier used for a private transmitter.

In 2267, Captain James T. Kirk ordered his communications officer Nyota Uhura to contact his brother George Samuel Kirk and his family on the planet Deneva. Uhura recognized the alphanumeric sequence he gave (GSK-783) as being a call sign assigned to a private transmitter. (TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!")

Call letters were also used as a radio identifier for a planet.

In 2366, the Enterprise-D didn't receive the call sign of the Federation colony on Rana IV. The planet had been devastated by a Husnock attack. (TNG: "The Survivors")

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