I like this idea. It would make support ships to be very viable and even highly useful in a fleet. Ships that basically have only repair bays and point defense weapons would significantly extend the lifespan of neighboring ships. You could throw in some fighter bays and turn it into a carrier. It does no damage itself but its a force multiplier and keeps other ships up and fighting for longer.
And this would allow us to implement two concepts from EVE: The Logistics ship and spider tanks.
A Logistics ship (AKA a logi) is simply a cruiser size hull (frigate size by GSB standards) that can’t equip weapons, but has major bonuses to remote repair abilities. We likely wouldn’t have the bonuses in GSB, since that would make things too unbalanced, but a single logi or two could extend the lifetime of a fleet dramatically.
As for spider tanks, the concept is simple. You take a fleet of battleships (cruisers in GSB), and give them each a single remote rep; then, when a ship starts to take fire, everyone else starts repping them, and change the target of the reps when the hostiles choose a new target.
Those are the two approaches, yes. Spread them out amongst the fleet so each ship can support another ship. Or create supply/support ships that carry no weapons (thus cannot be targeted by rescuer/retaliation orders) that have their only function being the support of nearby friendly ships.
With one approach your fleet is more flexible and each ship is more or less interchangeable, but each ship has a repair bay on it taking up room that could otherwise be used for guns/engines/shields. The other approach means you can have pure warships devoted entirely to fighting, supported by defenseless ships that hopefully will not attract too much attention.
Yeah, it’s a balancing act. In Eve’s PVP, logis are generally considered a priority 2 target (priority 1 is EWAR ships. Think a GSB ship dedicated to keeping you EMP’d), so it’s generally considered a good idea to have some sort of spider tank, but the AI tends to ignore logis. Also, keep in mind that in Eve, a logi is a ship class dedicated to equipping large (battleship scale) remote reps on a medium (cruiser/battlecruiser) hull.