The Starfleet Ready Reserve is a supply of older ships, stored away against need. This need is usually assumed to be a military emergency of some sort. This takes the form of a collection of old ships stored at various starbases.
In theory, ready reserve ships are kept updated and in good condition, ready to be used within a few weeks notice.
This varies from place to place. In some places the hull of old ships have been scavenged for useful parts and are little more than hulks.
In other places the ships have been kept in good condition, but not updated and are now museum pieces.
In other places, the deep need for ships and crews have resulted in ships being pulled out of the ready reserve and used the rest of the way up.
The main source of ready reserve ships is the Starfleet military build up of the late 23rd century. Fearing a war with the Klingon Empire , Starfleet built a huge number of ships for military roles. With the Khitomer Accords the feared war faded from probability and Starfleet was left with a fleet designed to fight that war.
These ships were mothballed and stored away
Some worlds in the Federation built large fleets of their own, for Instance the Great Spiral Cluster, which have since been placed into the ready reserve
The major places that this ready reserve is seen are along the Federation/Klingon and the Federation/Romulan frontier.
Newer Starbases will not have these old ships at hand and will have no ready reserve.
Some ready reserve depots have been stripped over time as the old ships are handed out to colonies and distance Federation worlds to boost local defense.
The pointlessness of saving hundred year old ships to throw at an unknown foe has been seen. The Ready Reserve is being cannibalizes for parts and resources. In some cases entire hulls are sold to civilian interests. The Verdan Limited yacht "SS Walloping Windowblind" is one such vessel. It was formerly a 23rd perimeter action ship AKA an optimistic way to die, by 24th century standard.
The ADF had a ready reserve as well. These were expended into the Far Sector to bolster the technology of the Zarian worlds and other new Federation members then coming to speed. Questions as to where the HELL the Ane got them, none of the ships was on record as having been built, were answered with" Blank stare...chew...ear twitch...**You do not want to know.**
The new protocol for the Ready Reserve, to maintain retired ships that are not placed directly into the hands of System defense, is to place then on standby for 10 years and evaluate them. At anytime they fail to meet current standard for operation they are scrapped. System defense forces have call on all ready reserve vessels. Evaluations to be repeated every ten years.
Once again Starfleet is piling up with used but useful vessels with the diSodium revolution sidelining otherwise good ships for a lack of speed. Those that can be upgraded are being upgraded, those that cannot be upgraded placed with system defense. Once they have no further capacity, the Ready Reserve.
During the Cardassian war of the Mid 2350s, the ready reserve was put into action, with mixed results. Starfleet viewed the successes and failures of the ready reserve as a learning opportunity.
During the Kliges'chee tsunami of the 2370s the Ready reserve was found to be utterly inadequate, and the decision was made to scap the lot.
Pictures by Neale Davidson