Table of Contents


VDR And SVDR – An Overview

VDR or the voyage data recorder, is required by all vessels as per IMO, to gather data from numerous sensors on the ship. It then digitizes, compresses, and stores this data in a shielded storage unit installed outside. The tamper-proof protective storage container is made to endure the intense pressure, heat, shock, and impact caused by a maritime event (fire, explosion, collision, sinking, etc.).

When the ship sinks in a marine catastrophe, the protected storage unit could be in a retrievable fixed unit or free float unit (or paired with an EPIRB). The protected unit’s stored data for the previous 12 hours (or 48 hours for the 2014 rules MSC.333(90)) can be restored and replayed by the authorities or ship owners for incident investigation.

The Voyage Data Recorder is defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a complete system, which includes all components needed to interface with the sources of input signals, their processing and encoding, the final recording medium, the playback equipment, the power supply, and a reliable reserve power source.

A Trip Data Recorder is a piece of technology put on ships that records various data on a boat and may be used to reconstruct the events of the journey and other important information during an accident investigation, similar to the “Black Box” on airplanes.

The position, movement, physical state, command, and control of a ship during and after an incident are all kept in a safe and easily accessible manner. This data determines the incident’s cause(s) in future safety inquiries. In addition to being utilized in accident investigations, it may also improve safety and save operating costs through preventative maintenance, performance efficiency monitoring, the study of heavy weather damage, accident avoidance, and training.

What Is VDR & SVDR?

As was already noted, a voyage data recorder, or VDR, is a device that can be deployed securely on a ship and is used to continually capture essential data about how the boat operates. It offers voice recording capabilities with a minimum 12-hour recording time. This recording is retrieved and used for accident investigation in a compressed and digitized version.

A ship’s VDR is significantly superior to an airplane’s black box since it can keep a variety of data for at least 12 hours. The most recent data is continually overwritten in the data records for the previous 12 hours.

The SVDR is nothing more than a condensed version of the VDR also known as the Simplified-VDR; it only records essential information and does not keep as much information as the VDR does. Naturally, it is more affordable and frequently used on cargo ships. The simplest way to comprehend the idea of SVDR is to contrast the information below with that of the VDR. The categories above are identified with the mandatory data that must be recorded in an SVDR. The last two Radar and ECDIS interfaces may be documented only if standard interfaces are available.


How To Use A VDR?

Voyage data recorders (VDRs) are essential for collecting and monitoring navigation data from ships. VDRs provide a continuous recording of the ship’s position, speed, heading, and other parameters that can be used to analyze the vessel’s performance. They also provide information on the ship’s route, speed limits, and any other restrictions that may have been imposed on the boat. With this data, it is possible to identify potential safety issues and make necessary changes to improve safety onboard. VDRs can monitor various activities, including voyage planning, navigation safety regulations, weather conditions, and vessel performance.

Additionally, they can detect potential navigational hazards or risks that may arise during a voyage. By using a VDR onboard ships, it is possible to collect accurate navigation data, which can then be analyzed to identify areas for improvement or risk. Ship operators, government agencies, and marine insurers use VDRs. They can be configured to collect navigation data in various formats, including GIS, hydrographic surveys, and digital images. The data contained in VDRs is also valuable for any onboard analysis tools such as voyage planning software or geographical information systems (GIS). VDRs can be used to monitor a range of activities onboard ships, including The use of VDRs, has been criticized for the potential privacy issues arising from their information collection.

The voyage data recorder (VDR) is a device used in ships to store essential data related to the ship’s voyage. It records parameters like location, speed, heading, and other vessel-specific data. The VDR is an invaluable tool that helps identify the cause of ship accidents and assists in the investigation process.

The VDR keeps track of all ship activities, such as navigation, propulsion, loading, and unloading operations. It also monitors environmental conditions like sea temperature and wind speed. This data can be used to assess the safety of a vessel as well as its performance while en route.

The VDR is an effective tool for improving overall safety at sea by monitoring vessel activities and helping identify potential issues or hazards on board before they become an issue during operation. The VDR can also be used in post-incident investigations to uncover causes behind any incidents or accidents at sea. The VDR is integrated into the vessel’s main navigation, communication, and control systems. This allows for continuous monitoring of the vessel’s activity, creating real-time reports, and analyzing the data to improve safety. Most modern ships have an existing VDR system. Still, it can also be retrofitted onto older boats with a computer installed onboard. There are various VDR products and their installation on board the vessel. The most common VDR types are VDR Monitoring System – the standard, pre-installed system on most ships. It is connected to a computer onboard the boat and is designed to continuously monitor the vessel’s activities, including navigation, communication, propulsion control, and emergency response services. VDR Computer – an already installed computer that can be upgraded with new software to perform real-time monitoring as part of its automatic engine/propeller protection system. It also provides detailed reports about each event that can be sent.

Regulations To Use

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) resolution A.861(20), titled “Performance Standards for Shipborne Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs),” was adopted in 1999 by amending this chapter (International Maritime Organization, 1997). These regulations, which came into effect on July 1, 2002, outline the types of ships that are required to carry voyage data recorders, including passenger ships, roll-on/roll-off passenger ships built before that date (which were equipped with built-in ramps to carry wheeled cargo such as cars and trucks), and other ships over 3000 gross tonnages constructed on or after that date.

IMO resolution also specifies guidelines on how the VDR must function. It defines, for instance, that in standard operation, the device shall be fully automated and continually keep consecutive recordings of preselected data items about the ship’s status, command, and control. In order to aid in its localization, the recording medium should be housed in a colorful protective capsule and equipped with a beaconing device. A further IMO resolution known as MSC.163(78), passed on May 17, 2004, establishes a new category of VDR known as “Simplified VDR” or S-VDR, with fewer criteria to be installed on older boats.

The regulations above stipulate that a standard VDR must store at least the following information: date and time in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), ship’s position (latitude, longitude, coordinate reference), speed, heading, bridge audio (acquired by one or more microphones placed to record conversations and audible alarms), Very High Frequency (VHF) radio communications, radar data (such as to record a faithful replica of the radar display), and navigation data.


How To Troubleshoot The VDR?

This walks you through resolving connection problems using (VDR). Verify that your environment supports each of the troubleshooting steps listed below. To eliminate potential causes and take appropriate remedial action, each stage includes instructions or a link to a document. The procedures are arranged in the most sensible order to isolate the problem and find the best solution. Do not omit any steps.

  • Check whether the VDR appliance and the plugin have the most recent updates.
  • To determine if the problem has been fixed, look at the release notes for recent versions. The Release Notes are available here.
  • Make sure the password only comprises ASCII characters.
  • If using DHCP, ensure the VDR appliance has a legitimate IP address. Confirm by opening a console connection to the device.
  • Check the DNS settings, especially Reverse DNS.
  • From the VDR appliance, resolve the IP, FQDN, and short name for the vCenter Server and any required ESX hosts.
  • Resolve the VDR appliance’s IP, FQDN, and short name from the Center Server.
  • Resolve the VDR appliance’s IP address, FQDN, and short name from the vSphere Client PC (if the Client is running elsewhere).
  • Check that the VDR appliance and the vCenter Server are connected over the network. Checking the network connection with the ping command provides further details (1003486).
  • Check that the VDR appliance and the ESX host are connected over the network. For further details, read Failing to log into the VMware Data Recovery appliance from vCenter Server and Testing network connectivity using the ping command.

However, power supplies will only be partially cut off in many instances. Therefore the VDR will still record events as usual (i.e., for a minimum of 12 hours before being overwritten). Consequently, it is crucial to determine promptly whether a vessel is equipped with a VDR and for individuals on board to keep or download the data it contains as soon as feasible to gather evidence. A VDR will often keep the most recent 12 hours (or longer if set up to do so) as a final recording media put in a protective capsule should all power be lost (for instance, if a vessel sinks or is destroyed by fire).

This will stay fastened to the ship or, in the case of a more advanced black box, float free and broadcast its location for SAR planes and ships to find. In any case, the data should be stored in the capsule for at least two years.


Best VDR In The Market

Ocean Data System: NDR Navigation Data Recorder

The NDR  is a powerful data recorder designed for marine applications that provides an affordable (but uncertified) alternative to VDR equipment (black box). Additionally, it offers a wide range of data recording services for specialists, designers, builders, and sailors (competition or cruising). It is a stand-alone solution that can exchange data with other UpSideUp solutions or be used as a module with those solutions. It comes with the UpSideUp SuperYacht version as standard. Sequential or event recording may be done concurrently in many data files at high-frequency thanks to its processor’s power, storage capacity, and input options.

Maretron’s Vessel Data Recorder (VDR100)

Every device linked to the vessel’s NMEA 2000® network transmits messages recorded by Maretron’s Vessel Data Recorder (VDR100). Each communication is saved using solid-state memory technology, and data may be easily retrieved using a detachable USB flash drive. With the extra purchase of a more extensive USB Flash Drive, a year’s worth of data may be kept in addition to the weeks or more of data that the standard 16 Gbyte USB Flash Drive can contain. Additionally, the VDR100 employs a circular buffer so that the oldest data is only overwritten after all available memory has been used. You never have to worry about losing the most recent data.

JRC VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) JCY-1900

Like its predecessor, the JCY-1900 is black box engineered, using hardware that we have manufactured and built, is dependable, marine-ready, and has an intuitive IP-based format made explicitly for our VDR. The 7-inch color LCD touch panel, which is brand-new for the JCY-1900, enables complete system operation. Examine the status of linked sensors, view the most recent picture data from radar and ECDIS, and playback audio tracks captured from microphones. Display a variety of VDR warnings with extensive information.

Headway VDR & S-VDR

The Voyage Data Recorder, sometimes known as VDR, is a data recording device for all vessels needed to comply with the IMO. Thanks to Headway’s Voyage data recorder, accident investigators may go through procedures and instructions before an incident and can help identify the reason for any mishap.

JOTRON VDR – 40VDR capsule, For Ships

A Cospas-Sarsat and MED-authorized float-free emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and float-free storage media are included in the Jotron Tron 40VDR Float Free Capsule. The standard memory size for the standalone VDR storage module is 64G.

Contact us for more information. 

Related FAQs

A voyage data recorder’s (VDR) primary job is to save a store of information on the whereabouts, motion, physical condition, command, and control of a vessel before and after an occurrence in a safe and retrievable format.


The law mandates that current cargo ships of 3,000 gross tons and above must be equipped with a VDR, which may be an S-VDR. This requirement is phased in, starting with cargo ships of 20,000 gross tons and higher and moving on to cargo ships of 3,000 and more elevated.


The VDR is housed in a tamper-proof storage container that is strengthened to withstand high pressure, heat, impact, and other environmental factors that could be present during a marine catastrophe. Among the information a VDR gather is GPS-based location, time, and date.


The maker or a person authorized by the manufacturer must conduct the yearly testing of VDR/S-VDR required by SOLAS rule V/20.


VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) and S-VDR (Simplified Voyage Data Recorder) are both devices used on ships to record data from various sensors and systems. VDR records more data than S-VDR and is mandatory for certain vessels, while S-VDR is a less complex and less expensive version of VDR required on other types of ships.


  • […] Voyage Data Recorders, also known as “black boxes” for ships, play a crucial role in accident investigation and safety monitoring. These devices record and store critical data such as vessel position, speed, heading, communications, and sensor inputs. In the event of an incident, VDRs provide valuable information for analysis, helping authorities understand the sequence of events and identify contributing factors. The data captured by VDRs is instrumental in improving safety practices and preventing future accidents. […]

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