It gets brought up on an occasion, once by myself included.
Could we get randomly patrolling AI ships? Stuff that’s appropriately built for the different tiers of the world, of course. It would really be nice to have something that’s relatively safe early on to practice ship combat with in low tiers that maybe only use sails and a swivel gun. More dangerous challenges in higher tiers that are bigger and badder and or maybe even have escorts like a merchant ship.
One complaint I heard was that it would be a problem trying to make AIs that run around on the ships and what not.. so don’t. The helm could have it’s own AI, the cannons and swivel guns have their own AI, but no actual crew. Make them special guns that look like they have a crewman attached to them.
Finally, add loot to the ships equal to maybe 2 or more big chests based on the danger level of the ship, maybe even some data cores to make it difficult to resist. It’ll be fun and you get something out of it, and heck if you’re crazy you can tow the ship to an island and build it back up for yourself because maybe the rare NPC ship has a frame that’s not just a base ship frame.