Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals
For the record, when the Raven first appeared in "The Raven," the clearly-visible dedication plate gave its name as S.S. Raven.
Only in "Dark Frontier" was the Raven referred to as the "U.S.S. Raven," in dialogue, by Magnus Hansen in the ship's log.
Personally, I'm inclined to ignore the dialogue and accept that it's just the S.S. Raven, because it's obviously being crewed by civilians.
The notion that it was a decommissioned Starfleet ship that was sold to civilians makes sense. TNG established a precedent for that when the Oberth-class S.S. Vico from "Hero Worship" was depicted as a civilian ship.
I always got the impression that these ships were part of some NOAA-esque division of the Federation government and not privately owned vessels.
"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place." - George Bernard Shaw