If you play under the difficulty level of "advanced", you will have a wider selection of parts for each vessel you decide to use. For instance, the Defiant class ship's original defense mechanisms only included a navigational deflector and shields. With an advanced playing level, you are also granted the use of ablative armor and a cloaking device. Also, when you pick your class of ship, the hull mainframes will be empty. This gives you room for modifications.
To get tons of extra buying credits, first select a ship from your fleet. It does not have to be complete. If you do not have any ships, build a new one. Spend as many credits on it as possible. Go to the fleet screen and export your ship. Now delete the ship from your fleet. You will get an amount of credits equal to the value of the ship. You can import the ship back into your fleet for free and repeat this process as many times as you like.
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