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This paper describes a mechatronic system for a model ship that is developed as a validation platform for ship maneuvering control system research. The model ship is a free-running system that is propelled and steered by two propulsion motors and two rudder motors, respectively, powered by batteries packed onboard. Real-time control is performed by an embedded processor, with control algorithm being programmed on a hosting PC and communicated through a wireless network. Sensors for the ship motion are integrated for feedback control and data acquisition. The hardware description, software development, and system integration efforts will be delineated. The mechatronic system has been used to develop a dynamic mathematical model for the ship to facilitate future control work. System identification results are presented to demonstrate the utility of the hardware and software presented in this paper.