The old days of majestic wooden or brass wheels that control the rudder movements of grand ships are long gone. Case in point: the Royal Navy’s new 65,000 ton displacement aircraft carrier’s wheel, which looks more like it belongs in a late 1980’s concept car than on a 9 billion dollar capital ship.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is not alone when it comes to the shrinking ship’s wheel phenomenon. As vessels systems have become increasingly computer-controlled, their wheels have shrunk. In fact, some don’t even have a wheel at all. The Littoral Combat Ship, for instance, has a bridge that looks like an Airbus airliner’s cockpit, with joysticks controlling the ship’s direction.


Still, considering the Brits’ passion for their naval heritage and nostalgia, it would be nice to see a little more grandiose flair when it comes to the heart of their largest combat ship ever.

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