Robert Comsol wrote:
Upon closer examination I believe it's actually unlikely it's the Yorktown as we just saw that ship earlier in the movie:
CARTWRIGHT: We don't know. Get me the Yorktown.
YORKTOWN CAPTAIN: (on viewscreen) Emergency channel zero one three zero. Code red. It has been three hours since our contact with the alien Probe. All attempts at regaining power have failed.
CARTWRIGHT: It's using forms of energy we do not understand.
FEDERATION PRESIDENT: Can you protect us?
CARTWRIGHT: We are launching everything we have.
YORKTOWN CAPTAIN: (on viewscreen) Our systems engineers are trying to deploy a makeshift solar-sail. We have high hopes that this will, if successful, generate power to keep us alive.
Theoretically, everyone aboard Yorktown might have suffocated in the icy cold of space, so you had an empty starship looking for a new captain.
On the other hand Scotty's remark of the E-A being a "new ship" (in the subsequent movie) seems to contradict this idea.
Not really, because if the Yorktown
was crippled and had to be towed back to Earth for repairs, her captain and some of his crew could have been reassigned somewhere else while the ship was in dock. Starfleet could have made the decision to rename the ship the Enterprise
-A based solely on her being the only available Constitution-class ship on hand at the time. For all intents and purposes, she would still be a new ship for Kirk and the TOS gang.
I imagine a similar situation played out for Picard and the TNG gang following the loss of the Enterprise
-D in which an existing Sovereign-class ship in dock was renamed the Enterprise