What most people fail to understand, is that "what works best" in fact depends very much on your gamestyle.
Me for example... I run a Fleet Escort with 3x DHC + Quantum up front with 3x turrets rear, because I am specced into maximum damage, in head on attacks. That paired with a somewhat low manuverability (for escorts) and skills that enhance my shields, hull and DPS.
That is what matches my gamestyle, and a philosophy that says: "it can't hurt you if it is dead".
Another person from my fleet however is using a Prometheus with regular Phaser Beams, and lots of hull heals (hazard emitters), and has a High manuverability.
It all comes down to playstyle.
I try to get the kill in the first pass but with a risk to get my butt kicked, he tries to get it over time, but with less risk.
So it is all about figuring out what works for you. Your freinds can claim their setup to be the best all they want.. it's both true, and false at the same time.
Yeah my science and bridge officer abilities focus on healing of shields and hull. I am trying to get better at the "dash and bash" but I amfighting mostly at 1/4 impulse with most of my power in shields and weapons.
The Fleet Escorts has an extra Ensign Eng slot and Eng Console slot. It will raise your surviveability to a high degree (option to add an extra Eng Team or EPtS) and lets you boost shields, allowing you to allocate more power into your engines.
Escorts are small fragile beings, that need their shields up.