I think the point behind the visible lifeboat hatches was to have justifiable detail on the hull. No one wants Star Wars-style nurnies all over a Starfleet ship, but there's an instinctive need in SFX people to give us little details for scale reference and to break up smooth surfaces. So in later Trek productions, there's a search for excuses for details ... escape pod hatches, phaser emitters, photon torpedo launchers. Sensor palettes, tractor emitters, transporter arrays -- until eventually we get ships like the 1701-E and 2009 Enterprise that are practically covered with nurnies.
Undoubtedly true, although I would dispute the last point. The new Enterprise
from Trek ‘09
was relatively sleek and uncluttered, compared to the Sovereign
class and most other late 23rd century designs anyway.
Sorry, Vektor -- and with the greatest respect, but the latest Enterprise
is the most cluttered design yet. I've got the toy right here in front of me, and the junk all over the nacelles (especially on the cowling) is staggering. Much more so than the refit, and even more than 1701-E. And while the primary and secondary hulls aren't as cluttered, they still have more than 1701-A. Maybe even the D.
I guess the worst offender was the NX-01, but I'll forgive them that since a cluttered look suited a more primitive vessel.