Regulations and Standards

Voyage Data Recorder


Like black boxes carried on aircrafts, Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs) enable accident investigators to review procedures and instructions in the moments before an incident and help to identify the cause of any accident.

VDR systems are designed to record and store information concerning the position, movement, physical status and command and control of a vessel.

Passenger ships and cargo vessels of 3.000 GT and above constructed on or after July 1, 2002 must carry a VDR to assist in accident investigations, while on cargo ships of 3.000 GT and above which were built before July 1, 2002 a Simplified VDR (S-VDR) is accepted to be fitted for the same purpose.

Regulations and Performance Standards

The original performance standards for VDRs were defined in MSC.163(78) and came into force in 2002. Ten years later the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a revised recommendation on performance standards for VDRs.

The new requirements are defined in MSC.333(90) and apply to all full VDR systems installed on or after July 1, 2014.

Due to the difficulties in interfacing to existing analog sensors on older vessels, simplified VDRs are not required to record the same amount of information as a full VDR system.

Nevertheless S-VDRs should maintain a store of information according to the original S-VDR performance standards, as defined in MSC.163(78). These standards came into force in 2006 and remain unchanged to date.

Light Voyage Data Recorders (L-VDRs) are non-mandatory systems, intended for vessels not required to implement a full VDR or a simplified VDR system by regulations, but in need of responsible documentation of voyage related data.

L-VDRs provide the recording capabilities of a type-approved full VDR system without being connected to a fixed/float-free capsule.

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