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Voyage data recorders (VDR) collect data from ships, process and store sensor data to provide valuable insight in the aftermath of an incident on the water. They are essentially black boxes for the maritime industry, crafted to identify the cause of marine accident and contribute to prevention.

VDRs and SVDRs are required to be installed on all ships with a gross tonnage of 3,000 or greater, built after July 1st, 2002. A VDR/SVDR is an electronic storage medium that is able to be able to withstand pressures and shocks caused by marine accidents like sinking, collision, or fire.

The system is designed to collect data from various sensors on board a ship, digitizing and compressing it before storing it into a protective storage unit mounted externally. The tamperproof container is designed to withstand the most severe heat, shock, and impact as well as pressures that might be encountered during a marine accident, for example, a collision or fire.

Members may want to upgrade their VDR/SVDR systems in order they can keep the data for a longer duration. In the moment, the IMO performance standard only requires the VDR/S/VDR to keep data for a maximum of 12 hours after an incident before it is overwritten.

A growing number of companies are now offering a «MantaDigital» S-VDR which can be interrogated remotely in the same way airlines’ FDR data is analyzed post-incident. This enables onboard technical issues to be diagnosed remotely and supports the implementation of proactive maintenance processes. Regular shoreside replays allow bridge teams to identify patterns in their performance and to identify opportunities for improvement.