Northrop Grumman has unveiled a new Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (S-VDR) to meet the latest international carriage requirements for installing “black box” recording devices on existing cargo ships. The VoyageMaster II S-VDR was developed and is being marketed by Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit. It has been designed to provide a cost-effective and space-saving solution to fulfill the carriage requirements for retrofit on existing cargo ships over 3,000 gross tons, while reducing the time required for installation, configuration and certification of the equipment.
The VoyageMaster II system records and time stamps data from the radar and navigation sensors, as well as audio recordings from the bridge. The data is stored in a hardened capsule that can be recovered and used to analyze the events leading up to and following an incident. The VoyageMaster II S-VDR consists of a data-acquisition unit, a bridge alarm unit and a protective data capsule. The data-acquisition unit is a locking cabinet that contains an industrial-grade computer and interfaces for audio, data and video inputs. The hard disk can be removed quickly and easily for data retrieval and playback. It has an uninterrupted power supply to ensure continued audio recording operation in the event of a power failure. The bridge alarm unit has an adjustable-intensity LCD screen to show system status and alarms. A “save” button automatically initiates an operation to save and protect 12 hours of data on the hard drive. The protective data capsule meets all International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Electrotechnical Commission specifications for impact shock, fire exposure and deep-sea pressure.
The S-VDR is a simplified version of the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR), which is already required for new ships constructed since 2002. The S-VDR standard was created by the IMO for retrofit on existing ships, many of which were built with older systems and sensors that cannot easily be interfaced to the VDR. Under the latest IMO carriage requirements, all existing cargo ships engaged in international voyages over 20,000 gross tons must be fitted with an approved S-VDR by July 1, 2009, and all ships over 3,000 gross tons must be fitted by July 1, 2010.