Voyage Data Recorders (VDR)

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Voyage data recorders (VDR) collect data from ships, process and store sensor data to provide valuable insights in the aftermath of an incident in the marine environment. They are essentially black boxes for the maritime industry, crafted to identify the cause of marine accidents and help in prevention.

VDRs and S-VDRs are affixed to all ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards that were built on or after July 1, 2002. A VDR/SVDR is a storage medium that can stand up to pressures and shocks resulting from incidents in the marine environment, such as sinking, fire, collision or even sinking.

The system is designed to collect information from a variety of shipboard sensors, then digitize and compress it, then store it inside a externally-mounted protective storage unit. The tamperproof container is built to withstand the most severe heat, impact, and shock and pressures that could be encountered during a marine incident, such as a collision or a fire.

Members might consider upgrading their VDR/S/VDR systems to enable them to store data for longer periods. Currently, IMO performance standards only require the VDR/SVDR to retain data for 12 hours following an incident.

A growing number of manufacturers are now offering a ‘MantaDigital’ S-VDR that is able to be accessed remotely similar to the way airlines’ FDR data is analyzed post-incident. This allows for remote diagnosis of technical issues aboard and assists in implement proactive maintenance procedures. Regular shore-side playbacks also support bridge teams in analyzing trends in their performance and identifying areas for improvement.

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