My main question is the ship I should buy. The Kumari Escort seems well suited to my play style, though I really can't think of a use for a third tactical BOFF slot as I'm pretty much cannon-only. If I were to add beams I would probably add Fire At Will or Overload. The Charal looks to me to be the best call as my entire priority list goes.
However, any suggestions? One of the not-Andorian Zen ships, perhaps?
The Charal and Khyzon would both be able to help with more damage, but not so much with more survivability (they can run the same officer layout as the Patrol Escort, though).
The Defiant would give you more maneuverability, but not increase your survivability.
The Steamrunner can help with survivability (it would allow you to run both Aux to SIF and Reverse Shield Polarity along with 2?Emergency Power to Shields, but then all but requires you to use that En Sci slot for Hazard Emitters), and doesn't sacrifice much in meaningful DPS (Tachyon Beam is terribly weak compared to almost any Tactical power). It does require Steam, however.
If you have access to a fleet, the Fleet Patrol Escort is also worth looking into, since it's basically a tougher version of the Patrol Escort.
The Armitage sacrifices a bit of its own DPS (only one LtCdr Tac power compared to most escorts' two) for a hangar and a LtCdr Engineer, making it sturdier than most other Escorts.
Once I get high enough in this newfangled rep system I'll be sure to give the MACO stuff a look. I have always preferred resilient shields, with Emitter Amplifiers buffing the regen. And perhaps I'll quit hitting "ignore" on all the fleet invites- that gear looks pretty dandy. Man, I've been away a while!
After trying some of my options out, I ended up going with the tac Kumari, because I did find a use for the extra tactical BOFF slot. However, I will be redoing all the BOFFs as the CRF doesn't seem to be as beneficial with this thing as it was on my old one, and I really miss AP Omega III- and AP Beta is pretty handy too. The third slot will just be used for attack buffs, but I'd benefit more from attack patterns at this point than CRFIII.