I don't want to repeat things I've been saying for the last two years. You should read my earlier posts here to understand the true nature of the situation. What I am saying is based on about 40 years of actual experience with this subject that comes from a table-top game called Star Fleet Battles, and in this case a concept we call the Kaufman Retrograde. It is counter-intuitive and most people have a problem with it at first. You like using real world military examples, there were more real-world military people involved with SFB than any other game that has ever been made. We worked this all out pretty completely over the last 40 years. There is a whole lot more too it than just the greifing issue. "Speed is life", and there is absolutely nothing a slower ship can do to catch up too a faster ship that does not want to be caught.
Sure, "speed is life", but I'm going to throw a counter to that: "Invincibility lies in the defence, the possibility of victory in the attack".
Yes, if Ship A is faster than Ship B and is already outside of Ship B's range, then there's precious little that Ship B can do about it unless Ship A decides to return. However, if Ship A is unable to damage Ship B from outside of that range either, then this simply presents a stalemate unless Ship A simply wishes to run away: in order to threaten Ship B, Ship A needs to accept some risk in return. There are numerous ways a stalemate can be broken without putting an unrealistic barrier into place that dominates the map even if neither player is trying for a drawn-out stalemate.
As I noted above, in proper physics of fighting in a vacuum, there should be no significant advantage from being the pursued over the pursuer... and any minor advantage is offset by the fact that the "run away and shoot back at a pursuing enemy" only works if the enemy in question cooperates. Placing weapons forward so you can hunt down and advance towards an enemy while still being able to fire is superior in most real combat situations.
You could claim that game mechanics might change that, but in that case it's the result of the game mechanics, and not a realistic scenario.
Designing the ships to work on an open map is VERY limiting and exceptionally difficult to do. I know because I have already done it, most of my games that have real-time space combat use open maps for the realism of it. I really wouldn't recommend anyone else trying that, almost all roads in that direction lead to disaster unless you know exactly what you are doing. There are very few ships in Star Control, and designing 3 dozen ships for an open map would be simple (although with very limited designs and throngs of people endlessly arguing for things that couldn't be made to work be added too the game) if the ones that came with the game were going to be the only ships. But with the editor, a tournament arena is by far the best solution to the retrograde for Star Control. Any design works within the arena, on an open map most ship designs will not work.
From what I understand SCO is still going to have the original wrap-around map. It's going to have a lot of different maps. So instead of just the arena, or just the wrap around map, there will be many maps in SCO. It's not like they are only using this one map, both types will be in the game. In Fleet Battles you can choose to play on the wrap around map if that is what you want. It is variety, instead of the same map being used for all battles as was the case in SC2.
And the wrap around map is just another type of barrier, SC2 did not have an open map.
I've said previously that I don't think the wrap-around is "just another type of barrier". It DOES mean that there's a limited playing field, but it still provides an illusion of freedom, and it certainly doesn't result in impassable walls that you can crash into (particularly impassable walls that you don't even see until you do, thanks to the camera setup).
As for the ship design thing... Hasn't it already been said that custom ships aren't available in unranked/ranked anyway, and thus are only available in 'friendly' games where players can agree not to use a ship that's absolutely broken on a given map? Broadly speaking, the SC2 ship design principles work. Bigger ships are generally slower and have better weapons and/or defences which the faster ships are going to have to brave in order to go on the offensive. Even the Kessari Quadrant ships, as much as some people deride them due to mines and simple guns being everywhere, work in the context. Now, of course, if you had total design freedom, you COULD design a super-ship which can both outmaneouver almost any other ship while being able to inflict effective damage from outside of the enemy ship's range despite point defence and most other defences... but in this case, I'd say that the situation is that the ship itself is broken, not the map. Don't design ships that can both outrun and outrange the majority of other ships in the game, and an open map won't be a problem. Seems rather simple to me, as well as being realistic: any weapon that can be mounted on a small, fast ship, can in principle have a bigger version with longer effective range that can be mounted on a bigger, slower ship.