Originally Posted by LuceBianchi
I used the phrasing I did on purpose. A ship at sea without fuel is dead in the water, unable to maneuver, but still at sea. A ship in space would need fuel to start moving, to stop moving, and to change course, (as well as support life) but not to *continue* moving, or stay in space (except for unstable orbits, as mentioned above). (Except for FTL travel. *Something* has to bend physics to your will, dammit.)
The point: a ship without fuel will not immediately find itself beached or sinking, though it will need rescuing. It can still be its own lifeboat. Even a diesel-electric submarine *might* still be able to force enough pressurized air into its tanks to surface. An airplane without fuel will very quickly test the "any landing you can walk away from is a good landing" hypothesis.
It reminds me of the Ovine Aviation sketch from Monty Python, where sheep are attempting to escape by learning to fly. "Now witness their attempts to fly from tree to tree. Notice they do not so much fly as plummet."