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Join Date: Dec 2007
02-01-2010, 05:14 AM
To a degree it would make sense for Escort type vessels to have a secondary role as trouble-shooter and scout craft. Their ability to be quickly dispatched to places of "interest" to Starfleet and generally punch above their weight makes them very good for "business end" recon, where a science vessel might not be an appropriate risk. Even with a Science department totalling as few as half a dozen officers and very basic facilities it would not be beyond the capabilities of an Escort to perform a standard survey mission. Any Science officer worth her pips is going to be able to recalibrate an escorts' military sensor system for scanning anomalies.
Actual travel ranges are a bit of an illusion. With replicators and warp power, supplies are a bit redundant. If my understanding of the fluff jargon is right, all a ship needs is a ready supply of deuterium and anti-deuterium to keep flying (something the front ends of the nacelles are supposed to collect). The endurance times of "5 year missions" and the like are probably for the crew rather than the ship ability to keep going (given a capable engineering team).
/tldr There's no reason why an Escort can't go on a science mission, especially during the current time of war.