Revealing the secrets onboard the Ship

A sophisticated equipment known as the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) can determine the past actions or movements of the ship in the event of an accident. It serves as the ship’s “Black Box” if you would compare it to an airplane. How would a Voyage Data Recorder help us in terms of safety? Many accidents that involve two or more ships often resulted to human error. With the invention and implementation of the voyage data recorder, solving ship related accident cases will consume less time and better result.

What is a Voyage Data Recorder?

Voyage Data Recorder is a data recording system designed for all vessels required to comply with the IMO’s International Convention SOLAS Requirements (IMO Res.A.861(20)) in order to collect data from various sensors on board the vessel.

How is the VDR similar to a blackbox?

The Voyage Data Recorder records the events on board the ship such as: radar, voice, DGPS, engine orders, and weather information. In the events of an accident, all of this recording will be analyzed to have a knowledge of what really happened. I’ll provide you with the link to a more detailed information about the Voyage Data Recorder.

“JRC calls its VOYAGE DATA RECORDER the marine equivalent of an airplane’s “black box.” Composed of a protective capsule and recording control unit, the Voyage Data Recorder can record and store data regarding position, speed, heading, bridge communication, radar data, VHF communication and a wide array of boat conditions”

What does it look like?

The VDR picture on the left would most likely look the same onboard your ship. You can find it on the monkey island or the flying bridge deck. The picture on the right shows the VDR panel when opened.

How will it benefit the seafarers?

With the advancements of technology, the equipment onboard the ships are evolving into a more accurate but sometimes complex piece of equipment. Mariners who would depend on electronic navigation too much could endanger his self and would later cause the ship to an accident. A variety of critiques would comment on the result of the accident whether it’s human error or equipment malfunction, and could even take a lot of days in court. With the implementation of the voyage data recorder, ship related accidents lessens the days of waiting and improve in determining its actual cause. Learning from those accidents, additional laws can be implemented. Through circular letters, newsletters, and other media; we can create awareness and future prevention of the same accidents.


You now know what VDR stands for and its importance to us. I’d like to add something more to this with regards to how and when the test for voyage data recorder conducted.

“The voyage data recorder (VDR) system, including all sensors, shall be subjected to an annual performance test. The test shall be conducted by an approved testing or servicing facility to verify the accuracy, duration and recoverability of the recorded data. In addition, tests and inspections shall be conducted to determine the serviceability of all protective enclosures and devices fitted to aid location. A copy of a the certificate of compliance issued by the testing facility, stating the date of compliance and the applicable performance standards, shall be retained on board the ship”, as said by

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