They can be used for several decades. For example, the British carrier HMS Hermes (now Indian) was launched in 1953 and is scheduled for decomissioning only by 2019 (66 year lifetime). USS Enterprise from 1961 is going to be decomissioned in 2013 (52 year lifetime). USS Intrepid served from 1943 to 1974 (31 years). With such a long lifetime, aircraft carriers are more likely to be replaced by much more technologically advanced new ships than for long use and wear.
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