^No, it isn't. As I've pointed out already with evidentiary support (see post #54
), there is abundant real-world precedent for using ship names without the definite article, just as there is precedent for using them with the article. The literal meaning of an individual ship name is completely irrelevant to the usage. It's far more general than that. The rule in commercial shipping seems to be to use an article, but in naval usage, some say there should never be an article attached to the name, while others say that large ships should usually be referred to with an article while smaller craft generally don't use it. It is never, ever broken down based on the literal definition of the ship's name.
Star Trek does not consistently follow any rules based on size. The writers seem to only follow the "whatever sounds right" rule.
As already established, Voyager almost never referred to the ship as "the Voyager", but Ransom's ship was consistently reference as "the Equinox".
Usage (single episode),
the Equinox: 31 times
Equinox: 4 times
Two of those 4 are addressing the ship, 1 is the distress call "the Federation Starship Equinox. We're under attack.", and 1 drops "the" to make the alien of the week, Ankari, sound more caveman and hostile.
Voyager treatment of Equinox is roughly the same treatment TOS gives Enterprise. Anytime the ship is being personified by someone talking to it or for it, the article is dropped.
TOS breaks the no "the USS shipname" rule, uses the article when it feels like, and drops the article when it feels like, possibly more than people realized.
Usage (3 seasons)
The USS Enterprise: 24
The Enterprise: 358
Enterprise: 419 (to Enterprise: 110 Enterprise to: 46)
The USS Enterprise: 28
USS Enterprise: 17
The Enterprise: 910
Enterprise: 525 (to Enterprise: 77 Enterprise to: 27)
The USS Defiant: 5
USS Defiant: 3
The Defiant: 309
Defiant: 104 (to Defiant: 20 Defiant to: 5)
The USS Voyager: 3
USS Voyager: 14
The Voyager: 33 (most were phrases ending in crew, away team, etc)
Voyager: 1510 (to Voyager: 228 Voyager to: 75)
The USS Enterprise: 0
USS Enterprise: 0
The Enterprise: 15 (not all referring to the ship, like Voyager)
Enterprise: 737 (to Enterprise: 102 Enterprise to: 28)
Ent treats Columbia the same as Enterprise, but doesn't give that same honor to the Intrepid a couple times it's needed for a conversation.
So I think it's safe to say that Star Trek canon is telling us in the future people will gradually think more and more of starships as either structures or collective bodies rather than military vessels, except in the cases when personifying the ship either through comm usage or inclusion of bio-neural circuitry. Canon also seems to imply that Earth ships are going to be Really popular and everyone is going to want to talk to us rather we call first, regardless of how many times we've heard "hail them." Or simply that the writers less often chose to have people speak for their entire ship, but I thought the consistency of the to/from numbers was neat.