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Marine Recorders are very useful tools safely equipped and utilized by ships or vessels for a number of purposes. Mainly, marine recorders provide invaluable data or evidence to be used by ship owners, investigators, and authorities. However, the data can only be taken advantaged if it is properly stored and retrieved.


When following an oceanic catastrophe, it is very important to learn what happened and what triggers the incident. Reasonably, the key for this is to have all ships be installed with a marine recorder or voyage data recorder. The information administered by marine recorders or VDRs can only be used the data is well saved and recovered.

However, the shipowners and operators have to consider the potential predicaments associated with downloading and examining the post-incident data. Basically, there can be a lot of possibilities to look at, which is likely to be the reasons why the data captured by marine recorders can become useless.


Typically, the following are premeditated factors why the VDR data cannot be utilized for its purpose(s): 


  • The bridge team may not have fully understand the operation of the marine recorder or voyage data recorder that’s fitted on their vessel.
  • The data or information recorded was not immediately saved after the casualty or accident. And, was consequently overridden and lost.
  • The data downloaded can possibly be found incomplete or deteriorated. The incompleteness may be due to missing audio recording, radar display, data on course, position and speed.
  • The hardware of marine recorder or VDR is malfunctioning, not causing the built-in alarm.
  • The duration of time enclosed by the download is not the same to the time-frame in which the significant mishap occurred.



Basically, the annual performance test is highly recommended and conducted to help identify issues and concerns regarding the fitted marine recorder. Anyhow, the test may fail to determine problems that can possibly compromise adequate data capturing.

Substantially, the old version of voyage data recorders may have functional restraints compared to the modern marine recorders today. In relation to this, the following features must be considered when looking for an advanced VDR or marine recorder.

  • Expanded memory capacity allowing the preservation of information for notably prolonged periods.
  • More inputs available conceding additional navigational aid statistics to be documented and employing redundancy if a data link declines.
  • The presence of remote playback that enables data to be digitized directly from the marine recorder and be explored by the shore management.
  • The presence of a live connection to allow crews in accessing the marine recorder data and utilize it as a tool for onboard training.
  • Features a standardized kind of device across the fleet that promotes familiarity, both onboard and ashore.


Shipowners, operators and managers cannot deny the fact that marine recorders or VDRs are extremely of great use. 

Essentially, establishing marine recorders in every ship or vessel is highly prescribed by the International Maritime Organization, adhering to the Safety of Life at Sea rule. The VDR data does not only cater the needs of investigators for a more feasible incident investigation. But, the information provided by the marine recorders can also be used ultimately to a lot of scopes. That would include – preventive measures, monitoring fuel efficiency, reducing running costs, and many more.