137th Gebirg wrote:
It is clearly a "newer" design than the original refit. Out-of-universe cost-saving rationales aside, it has a different bridge module, newer style of engineering and warp core, totally different secondary hull innards with regard to shuttle bay and cargo hold, different turbolifts. The refit may have been an "almost" entirely new Enterprise, but the E-A is an entirely new Enterprise.
Not necessarily. Indeed, I would argue that not all ships from the same class are exactly the same, with some having different bridge modules, engine rooms, etc. You can take six ships from the same class that start off as identical copies of one another, but after a few decades of service, you'll find notable differences in them all as a result of different modifications to each over time. In fact, the Enterprise
-A had a different bridge module in each movie she appeared in and there were changes to the original Enterprise
bridge between TMP and TWOK.
It brings to question why they would decommission her so soon in TUC after being launched only a few years before...
That's where the old ship theory really works, IMO. If the Enterprise
-A was actually a renamed vessel roughly the same age as the original, it easily explains why she decommissioned--she was already past her prime at the time of TUC, with the Enterprise
-B waiting in the wings to replace her.