"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid." Q Join the 44th Fleet. [FED and KDF] Apply Online: startrek.44thfleet.com
Fleetmembers contribute to fleet to build starbase
Fleetmembers contribute to fleet to build shipyard
Fleetmembers contribute to fleet to buy fleetship provisions
Fleet pays you for your contributions in fleetmarks
...You then buy 'permission canisters' (fleetship modules) from cryptic,
You buy fleetship with FM's fleet paid you AND modules purchased from cryptic.
And you start over again to buy fleet weapons for your new ship (minus the modules from cryptic, they already got 20 bucks in zen from you for the fleetship modules)
Nope, you can also buy them on the exchange for energy credits (something around 3.5 to 4 million Energy Credits apiece)
Depending on your EC supply it's something worth considering IMHO.
I usually buy mine on the Exchange since I find it rather easy to get large amounts of ECs just by playing the game.