Mars is a great place to be in the Star Trek universe. Not only is it colonized and terraformed, but they build ships there. Really nice, spiffy ships. The obvious way to integrate that into STO is to get rid of the class system entirely in reference to ships and let us have whatever ship we want by beefing it out.
This thought comes to my mind after seeing the new Oberth-class vessel. Now, being a Science officer myself, I love me some science vessels. They have the ability to tank out their shields and kick some serious behind. But, why are the majority of new ships coming out dedicated to the field of science? Sure, tacticals got their multi-vector assault mode, but that's just a retrofit and not an actual new ship. And engineers? No love whatsoever (even in game with the officers, but that's a different story).
My point is, there are a ton of science vessels. Also, I LOVE their designs. However, I also love the assault cruiser and the upper-level tactical ships. Now, what if you could take out all the thing that made an assault cruiser and engi ship and respeced it to be a science ship? Or even a Defiant-class? I think that'd be pretty sweet.
Granted, in the Star Trek universe, many ships were built for a very specific purpose. Some were built for deep-space missions, some were built for kicking some Borg ass. But, you'd think Starfleet would have had the foresight to take whatever ship chassis they want and be able to change what they use the ship for. A ship used for deep-space exploration would be great for Neutral Zone patrolling missions because it's going to have boosted out sensors. The multi-vector ships could theoretically have their sections outfitted with better senors and theoretically you could have three ships doing the work of one in terms of research.
So, here's what I'm proposing: When UP is released, gives us the ability to respec a ship entirely. Let us take a tactical vessel and make it a science vessel or vice versa. Keep the ship-specific things (better manuverability for tacs, more HP for engis) but lets us overhaul the nitty-gritty. Let us take our old tier ships and respec them, also, to make them more powerful and more geared towards our current ranks. I miss my Horizon class vessel!
Pro: more stuff to customize for the player.
Contra: You would have no idea what you are up against in PvP anymore because everything is mixed up.
Contra > Pro
your "Star Trek" reasons are legit, but you forget that this is a GAME and you have put up no game releated reasons, we do not actually have a sensor range on our game ships and are not researching or patroling anything right now, we do 5/5 Quests, and it's the same for everyone, i see no reason for it other then "want it" from you.
Personally i'd rather see upgradable Ships through all Tiers, with a limited ammount of custumization to keep it ballanced ...somehow.