Voyage data recorders (VDR) collect, process and store shipboard sensor data to provide valuable information following a marine incident. They are basically maritime black boxes designed to determine the causes of marine accidents and aid in their prevention.

VDRs and S-VDRs can be fitted to all ships of three tons gross or more constructed on or after 1 July 2002. A VDR/SVDR is a storage medium that can endure pressures and shocks from incidents in the marine environment, such as fire, collision or sinking.

The system is designed for collecting data from various sensors on a ship and then compressing and digitizing the data before storing it in a protective storage unit mounted externally. The tamperproof container is built to withstand extreme heat, shock and impact and pressures that can be encountered during a maritime incident, such a collision or fire.

Members may wish to consider upgrading their VDR/S/VDR systems to give them the capability to store data for longer periods. Currently, the IMO performance standard only requires the VDR/S-VDR to keep data for a maximum of 12 hours after the incident before it’s erased.

A growing number manufacturers offer a MantaDigital S-VDR which can be accessed remotely like how airlines’ FDR data are analyzed after an incident. This allows technical issues onboard to be diagnosed remotely and facilitates the implementation of proactive maintenance processes. Regular shoreside replays allow bridge teams understand trends in their performance, and to identify opportunities for improvement.

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