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The usefulness of voyage data recorder or VDR has never been questionable. In fact, this ship recorder has such bigger contributions not only for examining incidents after the occurrence.

The lack of evidence to the operations of vessels on a journey has basically led to the existence of VDRs. Or specifically known as voyage data recorder, this innovative recording system has remarkably aided in investigating any marine disaster. It is skillfully laid out to furnish historical navigational statistics for the advantage of a number of purposes. Because of this verifiable truth about VD recorders, its essence has always been paramount and influential.

The presence of VDR or this crucial recorder equipment has been proven as an immense part in the maritime industry. Its application and objectives are undeniably prevalent to ships especially for fact-finding of events – disaster or any unfavorable incidents. But not only limited to the aforementioned, data recorders are also vital for the safety concern of operators and crews. Voyage Data Recorders are capable of providing conclusive information for investigating contingencies and for the following:

  • Information to better manage the vessel’s general affairs
  • Better supervise the consumption of fuel
  • Apply preventive measures or maintenance
  • Monitoring for efficiency of ship’s conduct or performance
  • Analyzing effects or damaged caused by heavy weather
  • Administering training to upgrade overall safety of operation
  • Plan of action for reducing functional costs


All things considered, it cannot be disagreed that VD recorders are truly potential for enhancing marine transport or cargo. Because of its being imperative in nature, the International Maritime Organization strictly acquaint its installation.

Most particularly to passenger and cargo ships and other vessels of the following nature:

  • Vessels that carry passengers that was constructed on or after July 1st 2002;
  • Ro-ro passenger ships built before the 1st of July of the year 2002. But, not later than the 1st survey on or after the year 2002 July 1st;
  • Ships that carry passenger other than the Ro-ro vessel. That it was constructed before July 1st of the year 2002. But, not later than January 1, 2004; and
  • Watercraft, besides passenger vessels of 3000 Gross Tonnage and upwards established on or after 2002 July 1st.

Periodic checking/review of VDR statistics can definitely help in detecting unstable practices, as well as problems arising on machinery. This can be a great help before any marine catastrophe occurs. Along with this, the coast guard firmly recommends certain actions, which owners and operators of ships with VDRs, must adhere.

  • Confirm that deck officers clearly understand the regulation of a Voyage Data Recorder. That, they are able to know how to set up the “save data” function immediately after any casualty.
  • Must hire a qualified service engineer to do line-by-line functionality verification of required information. That would include the prescribed inputs, data coverage time-frame, storage, and the data’s ability to be properly played back. And, it must be with the appropriate device, software and operating schemes available.
  • The service provider must ensure all batteries, location aid tools, enclosures, and power supplies along with correlated alarms. this must be in accordance with the instructions set by the manufacturer of the data recorder.
  • Must indicate a company rule/policy to yearly test and check the Voyage Data Recording unit. This is in additional to the ¬†annual certification enforced by the IMO. Moreover, this is to ensure complete system operation; and
  • Integrate the aforementioned recommendations in the watercraft’s safety management system and maintenance record keeping systems.


One of the International Maritime Organization requirements is that a VDR must record, collect, save, and present these significant data:

Time and data, Vessel’s position, Heading and speed, Bridge and communication audio, Radar data, Speed, and acceleration. Echo sounder, Rudder order and response, Post display data, Main alarms and Hull stresses.