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Voyage Data Recorder


Until recently, recoverable voyage data recorders had been known only from aviation.

Since July 2002, ships have to be equipped with such systems as well. In the initial phase, VDR are mandatory on board all ferries, new passenger ships, and all new ships of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards. The internationally recognized BSH testing laboratory is type-testing prototypes of shipboard VDR (also known as maritime Black Boxes) before they are allowed to go into series production.

In their technical specifications, shipborne voyage data recorders are far superior to aircraft black boxes because they store a much larger variety of data. Besides the usual voice recording feature, VDR systems also guarantee loss-free storage of all important navigational and engine data and record the radar display four times a minute. Safely stored in a protective capsule, the data records covering the last 12 hours are continuously overwritten with latest data. The units must be capable of withstanding heavy collisions, fires, and pressure conditions in several thousand metres of water.

Unlike shipborne automatic identification systems (AIS), VDR do not support safe navigation in the proper sense. The purpose of Maritime Black Boxes is to act as a reliable data source in the reconstruction of marine casualties. They will help to avoid past mistakes and increase the safety of navigation in general.


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If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Jochen Ritterbusch or phone +49 40 3190 - 7330


More information on the subject:
Notified body
Automatic Identification System
Type testing and approval
Approved navigational equipment

Deutsche Version

 © 2018 Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie Last Update: 19.04.2013 18:02:39  
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