Expert system approach is one of the most suitable methods to model human expertise in computers, which was introduced into marine technology to design marine vehicles three decades ago. Even though there are several applications by expert system approach, only some of them can be used effectively in this area. Hence, a number of expert system applications in marine vehicles are examined in detail to understand the sate of the art in this paper. Related tools, methods and subjects are discussed to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages in this discipline for the future developments. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.