I am finding that Anim8or is easy to use, after I got past the initial learning barrier. Anim8or was recommended to me by a friend who has used it to make some really good German battleship 3D models. I was really impressed with his last model of the Bismarck.
I am moving along with the modeling. It will take some time. The other piece will be selecting a 3D-engine. I suspect that Squeak-Alice is just a toy. Still, it might be a quick way to get started. I need to find an engine that is industrial strenght, but free. That might be difficult.
What I think that is needed are frameworks for gaming/simulating different naval warfare eras. They need to be "open", in the sense that you can create your own 3D models (or pay to have someone do them for you) and supply ship definition files to go with them, and then you would be all set. That is my vision. I can see frameworks for 16th, 17th, and 18th-early 19th Century sailing naval warfare, steam-powered ship, some with armor, the pre-dreadnought era, WWI, and WWII. This sounds like a very long-term project. I hope, initially, to leverage off my expertise with the Anglo-Dutch Wars.