The Ambassador class was a revolutionary design for the time, entering service in the 2230's as Starfleet's mainline exploratory cruiser. Allowing deep-space missions to go further than ever before, it opened new frontiers for the Federation, both literally and figuratively thanks to the many discoveries made by ships of the class.
Despite this fact, and a successful first few decades in service, the class would soon gain a reputation of spending equal amounts of time docked than in deep space. The research and development efforts made during its development would continue afterwards at an accelerated speed, by the 2350's existing vessels had to undergo months long system upgrades and refits multiple times.
Starfleet Command eventually deemed the spaceframe too inflexible in its design, new advancements were simply being made faster than they could be implemented. It was thus decided to stop production of new Ambassador-class vessels ahead of schedule, supplementing the fleet with "stopgap" designs such as the Springfield and Niagara until the completion of the Galaxy project in the 2360's.
After the disappearance of the Enterprise-B in 2329, Starfleet spent 18 months looking for the lost starship. Officially there was no mention of a new Enterprise being in consideration at that stage, quietly however the third spaceframe being built for the brand new Ambassador class at Utopia Planitia was left unnamed, in case the search for the Enterprise-B proved unsuccessful.
In 2332, the Enterprise-C was commissioned and launched from Earth Station McKinley, under the command of 33-year-old Captain Rachel Garrett, who was promoted after an impressive tour of duty as XO on Hood. One of the largest starships ever built at that time, Enterprise was designed first and foremost for deep-space exploration, and served with great distinction for 12 years.
In 2344, while on course to Archer IV, Enterprise received a distress call from the Klingon outpost on Narendra III. When the ship arrived, the outpost was under attack by 4 Romulan Warbirds, standing no chance of survival. With sensors showing the nearest Klingon ship was still hours away and wouldn't arrive in time, Captain Garrett took the decision to engage the Romulans, despite being heavily outgunned. The Enterprise-C was able to destroy one of the Warbirds before being overpowered and eventually destroyed by the three remaining Romulan ships.
By the time the nearest Klingon ship arrived at Narendra III, the Romulans had withdrawn victorious, but the picture of what had transpired was clear from the remaining debris. Enterprise's sacrifice was regarded as both honorable and glorious by the Empire, and proved in the Klingon's eyes that the Federation could be a worthy ally.
- This description incorporates elements written for the reference book "USS Enterprise Owner's Workshop Manual".
The dedication plaque is based on its depiction on the 2016's release of the "Star Trek Encyclopedia", which is supposedly how the plaque looked like on the set.