Skills were supposed to get progressively more specialized: Weapons -> Beams -> Plasma, that sort of thing.
In weapons, those skills are staggered: Cmdr has Disruptor/Phasor, Captain has Plasma/Chronoton, RAdm has Polaron/Anti Proton. Not a big deal... you want specialize in whatever you wait for the rank. When you pass the rank you still get the benefit when you use those weapons.
If I'm reading the skilltips right, the ship specializations work similiarly, but only apply to the ships in that rank. Research Science Vessel versus Deep Space versus Long Range and others.
Are the subsequent ships considered subsets or their own class? If they are subsets (Long Range Vessel is considered Science/Research/Deep Space ) then Captains would benefit from SPs spent. But if they are their own class then, once I'm promoted to Captain and start using T4 ships I wouldn't benefit from SPs spent on 'Research' ships. Same goes for the T5 Admiral ships.
Just Curious... I made Commander last night, and got my ship. I got to lookin at the skill tree and thought, 'will my SPs spent on Research Vessel still apply like my SPs spent on 'Science Captain' and 'Ship Captain'
My next thought.... 'If they dont, what would I do if wanted to specialize in ships and weapons that I'm not ranked for.' I'd have to wait but to get to those ranks I'd have to spend the skills on my current skill access.