Hey everyone - I am really racking my brain about what kind of ship (and thus, bridge crew) I want to have, and something struck me: it makes sense that cruisers and science ships have exploration missions, but does it really make sense to have escorts out there for those missions? I really do love the escorts, especially the Defiant design and the Promethius, but wouldn't it seem odd for Starfleet to send those types of ships of exploration missions? Is there a precident in the shows or movies?
I'm just curious to see what you all think. Thanks!
See I always thought that the ships like Defiant are used perhaps in short durations, and have a base to come back to. The reason for this is because they are fairly small and are basically bare-bones in terms of recreation facilities/space. For example, yes the Defiant could go explore, as could the Yellowstone-class Runabouts, but they had a base (DS9, for example), to come back to and the people using them would have quarters on that base.
I think I could see the larger escorts exploring, but the Defiant and it's sister ships are a little too small, aren't they?
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.