Definitely so. But assuming that the ship was a newbuild carries the connotation that Starfleet still thought these ships were hot stuff. And I'd like to steer clear of such an idea for multiple reasons:
-The ST:TMP vessel was considered outdated and ripe for scrapping, despite the refit.
- We never see these ships after the last TOS movie (at least not intact and in use).
- ST3 makes a big deal about Starfleet wanting to upgrade to Excelsior
, ST6 has the new model in regular use for the third year at least, and ST:GEN then shows the upgrade in full swing with more ships and variants coming off the production lines.
- Apart from the ST:TMP ship, the only Constitution
we ever really get to see is the E-A anyway - and she shows signs of being another refit, what with her TOS-style shuttlebay (forced perspective issues notwithstanding, on both sides) and GNDN pipes and whatnot. All other uses of the Constitution
shape are inconclusive, ranging from mere fragments glimpsed in ST4 to generic silhouettes being used in the charts of ST6.
From Starfleet's viewpoint, building an all-new ship just for Kirk would be silly. Donating a useful ship to him would be silly. But having him wear out an already obsolete ship would be perfect, as it would serve as a symbolic reward, a factual punishment, and
an elegant means of waste disposal!
On the other side of the issue, Kirk at the end of ST6 seems to think there's still oomph left in the ship, enough for another crew to take over. For all we know (and Ashes of Eden
notwithstanding), this is
what happens - but Starfleet takes the flashy name off this ship and gives it to the latest pet project instead, so Kirk's second starship now continues service under some other name...