I can tell you that the ships only get better as you progress through the Tiers. Also, as I noted in the original post, the gold-per-DmgGiven rates improve as you go, and will eventually fully offset the cost for an upgrade (if you can survive long enough).
If it’s any consolation, I don’t think there are any bad ships in the game; there are however, some that will require strategies outside of our comfort zones.
Keep an eye on this forum thread as I update the top post with unlocks from time to time. Also, I recommend you share cross tell with your fellow players. You could work together and split up the work, or keep your cards close to hold an edge over the competition.