The modifier's way in blender:
1 - You model one sixth of the object with one of its borders aligned with an axis.
2 - You use a mirror modifier to get a third of the object.
3 - You use an array modifier using an empty rotated 120° and situated in your axis and using the modifiers "object offset" mode (http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.6/Manual/Modifiers/Generate/Array
You should have your object origin aligned with that empty too. Empty misplacing would give somewhat odd results. Once you apply the modifiers you should remove the double vertices, but that's simple.
I'm not sure of what would become of your UVs during such a process.
The only benefit I see from this method is that you get faster AO baking because it calculates the bake only for the original vertices instead of recalculating it 6 times for each face mapped to the same portion. I don't see any other benefit apart from that.
EDIT: Oh, I forgot to mention it: Awesome ships man!