This paper considers a system for supporting the multi-dimensional analysis of alternative configurations of military naval units, which is currently the object of a research and development project between Orizzonti Sistemi Navali, an Italian ship design company, and the University of Genova (Italy). The project aims at providing a decision making aid in the early phase of the vessels' design. In particular, the agent-based simulation framework included in such a system is presented and its characteristics are compared with a set of four existing frameworks, i.e, MANA, NetLogo, Stage and MASON. Agent-based simulation is specifically exploited in the early design phase for the evaluation of the vessel efficiency in a set of reference naval tasks.
The comparison is performed considering a common reference scenario and a set of qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators. The results obtained show both the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed agent-based simulation environment for the considered application case.