An artist's rendering of the next-generation Navy warship, the DDG 1002 Zumwalk Class Warship, which is being designed and built by General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works. The ship is expected to be on line in fiscal 2018.
Beth, these are good questions. Navy ships last a very long time. In the 1990s we were still using battleships built during WWII. They could still be in use, but the decision was made to produce new ships instead of keeping the old ones. These are large machines and it is easy to fit them out with new equipment over time. The battleships I mentioned, were outfitted with cruise missles and Phalanx gun system, which were not even concieved of when they were built. Frankly, with something as large as a combat ship, putting laser weapons or rail guns is not a big deal. They could be put on existing ships today, and probably would be.
Very sci-fi looking and the idea of shooting laser beams--that certainly puts the warship in a next-gen class. I'm curious as to how often the Navy rolls out a next-generation ship and what the typical life span is on these vessels. Any one have any clue?