IMO approves simplified voyage data recorders

Jan 4, 2005
Author: Bruce Dunn

By Bruce Dunn
SMD Telecommunications CC

Passenger ships, Ro-Ro ferries and ships over 3,000gt built after July 2002 are already required by the SOLAS Convention to fit Voyage Data Recorders (VDR), the so-called 'black box' for ships.

At the same time a study was under taken to determine the feasibility of retrofitting the existing cargo ship fleet with a simplified version referred to as S-VDR and to assess the benefits to accident prevention and inquiries which would result from this.

The results were positive and it was decided that the carriage of this equipment on existing vessels would contribute materially to safety at sea. Accordingly the IMO moved forward with the implementation of this recommendation.

The new rules approved by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee - 79th Session: 1-10 December 2004 stipulate that existing cargo ships on International voyages shall be fitted with an S-VDR as follows:

For vessels of 20,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed before 1 July 2002, by the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2006 but not later than 1 July 2009.

For vessels of 3,000gt and upwards but less than 20,000gt built before 1 July 2002, by the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July, 2007, but not later than 1 July 2010.

Most manufacturers of VDR have already proceeded with the development of the S-VDR product with several types ready for use at this time. The performance specification for the S-VDR has fewer mandatory monitoring items and reduced requirements for the data storage capsule.

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