This paper deals with the application of nonparametric system identification to a nonlinear maneuvering model for large tankers using artificial neural network method. The three coupled maneuvering equations in this model for large tankers contain linear and nonlinear terms and instead of attempting to determine the parameters (i.e. hydrodynamic derivatives) associated with nonlinear terms, all nonlinear terms are clubbed together to form one unknown time function per equation which are sought to be represented by the neural network coefficients. The time series used in training the network are obtained from simulated data of zigzag maneuvers and the proposed method has been applied to these data. The neural network scheme adopted in this work has one middle or hidden layer of neurons and it employs the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm. Using the best choices for the number of hidden layer neurons, length of training data, convergence tolerance etc., the performance of the proposed neural network model has been investigated and conclusions drawn. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.