VDR/SVDR Data Replay New Data Replay Recommendations from the IMO Further to the article titled " New IMO Proposals for VDR and SVDR Data Download and Playback ", the IMO Safety of Navigation Circular SN246 was published and can be found by clicking here. This document was used as the basis for the drafting of a Playback Standard by the IEC ( International Electrotechnical Commission ) specialised working group. A significant part of this exercise was conducted last November (2005) when Kelvin Hughes hosted a meeting at their Hainault headquarters, attended by some twenty eight IEC delegates from around the world. The creation of this new Playback Standard was included as an Annexe to the overall Technical and Test Standard for SVDR which was published in March 2006 as IEC 61996-2. As can be seen from SN246, the IMO recommended that the harmonisation should be implemented in two stages. The first stage applies to VDR/SVDR systems installed on or after 1st July 2006 with the second stage applying to existing installations which must have the feature available after 1st July 2007. In the simplest terms the IMO recommendation means that a method of extracting the stored data onto a laptop must be available from the VDR/SVDR. Leading manufacturers such as Kelvin Hughes and their VDR/SVDR products already provide the necessary facilities and in many instances exceed the recommendations. Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (SVDR) Are you stressed about S-VDR ? The Simplified Voyage Data Recorder or S-VDR is a system that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has mandated for carriage on the majority of large sea going vessels. It is a system similar to the aviation "black box" recorder where if a vessel is involved in an accident or sinks, data can be retrieved to reconstruct the last 12 hours of the vessels voyage. This allows the marine community to clearly understand the reason for the accident, however catastrophic and put in preventative measures to increase future marine safety. This site has been set up to provide an information portal for the Simplified Voyage Data Recorder. It contains regulatory, technical and commercial information together with frequently asked questions on the topic. Although the majority of this site has open access, to view the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section you will need a user name and password, these can be obtained automatically by clicking on "No account yet? Create one" on the homepage. This site is intended as a useful resource for all involved in S-VDR and will grow as more information is made available, this will only happen through interaction with the marine community. Please use the contact page to post your comments and any other questions that you may have. IMO Rules SOLAS S-VDR Fitting Dates Latest IMO S-VDR Carriage Requirements The International Maritime Organisation finally approved the mandatory requirement for the S-VDR system at MSC 79 in London in December 2005. The new rules stipulate that existing cargo ships on international voyages shall be fitted with an S-VDR as follows: “20,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed before 1 July 2002, at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2006 but not later than 1 July 2009” “3,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 20,000 gross tonnage constructed before 1 July 2002, at the first scheduled dry-docking after 1 July 2007 but not later than 1 July 2010” "Administrations may exempt cargo ships from the application of the requirements when such ships will be taken permanently out of service within two years after the implementation date specified above". New IMO proposals for VDR and SVDR data download and playback As experience has been gained in the use of VDRs, there has been a growing demand from Accident Investigators and a number of ship owners for the harmonisation of playback facilities. The current Performance Standards for VDR/SVDR do not specify a recording format for VDR data with the result that VDR manufacturers have adopted different approaches. At a recent meeting with senior members of the United Kingdom’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Chris Winkley – Kelvin Hughes Special Adviser was briefed on some of the difficulties experienced by investigators as a result of these differing standards. As Capt. Nick Beer, Principal Inspector of Marine Accidents explained, much time was being lost when first arriving on board a vessel, which had suffered an incident, in determining whether downloading or replay was possible. Also with the normal quick turn-around of vessels a rapid replay of downloaded information would provide a valuable guidance to investigators as to who to interview before both vessel and crew member sailed. "Fast access to the VDR data is important to enable the investigation to be focussed on the most valuable issues," - said Capt. Beer. "Our inspectors cannot realistically carry all the correct equipment to deal with any make or model of VDR". These concerns were discussed at length at the United Kingdom’s Marine Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) sub-committee on Marine Navigation Equipment (MNE) which combines mariners organisations, legislative bodies and manufacturers, such as Kelvin Hughes.. From these discussions a paper was produced for submission to the IMO for discussion at their sub-committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV 51) session which took place 6th - 10th June 2005. The basis of the paper being that a single standard be considered. In the event, two papers were submitted, one from Denmark which presented their similar views on the downloading and playback of data from VDRs and SVDRs. The paper made a number of suggestions on the subject and recommended discussion of the points. The second paper from the United Kingdom also proposed a number of suggestions with a recommendation that the sub- committee should prepare a draft Safety of Navigation circular to take into account the conclusions of the harmonisation discussions. It was noted that harmonisation, from the manufacturer’s perspective, was not an easy task for a variety of technical reasons. Clearly there was a need to establish areas of common ground between manufacturers, prior to the IMO meeting which was successfully achieved by The International Association for Marine Electronics Companies (CIRM). CIRM has observer status at I.M.O. and is encouraged to provide technical and industrial advice during the development of international regulations and standards. Martin Taylor, Kelvin Hughes – Engineering and Programmes Manager – is the current Rapporteur to CIRM on VDR matters, having taken over from Chris Winkley last year. Martin led a discussion on harmonisation during the recent CIRM technical conference held in Cyprus, with inputs from other key manufacturers. As a result, CIRM, working with others, including Accident Investigators, were able to propose a workable solution during IMO’s NAV 51 meeting. This delegation was led by the CIRM Secretary-General, Michael Rambaut, who, with CIRM members present, assisted in the drafting of an amendment to both the existing IMO Performance Standards for VDR and SVDR, along with a Safety of Navigation Circular (SN/Circ/246). This advised manufacturers to "ensure that after 1st July 2006, software for the exclusive use of investigators for the download and playback onboard, with any necessary connectors and cables, were available, locked inside the VDR/SVDR". Chris Winkley noted that Kelvin Hughes NDR 2002 Voyage Data Recorders and MantaDigital SVDRs would already meet the above requirements with the minimum of adaptation and that the simple "common" standard was still to be determined at a later date. This was confirmed during a subsequent conversation, made immediately following the IMO meeting with Kelvin Hughes’ Martin Taylor who was conducting a presentation on SVDR at a Conference held at Nor Shipping. In summary, IMO/NAV 51 has discussed both the UK and Danish papers that presented views on the downloading and playback of data from VDRs and SVDRs. As a result, a draft Safety of Navigation circular has been prepared which promotes a practical and low cost solution. Kelvin Hughes have had considerable input on the subject over the past few months and can confirm that their VDR and SVDR products already satisfy these new requirements, which will continue to be monitored at each stage of implementation. NTSB report conclusions on VDRs Abstract from paper submitted by Michael T . Brown (National Transportation Safety Board) VDR Safety Issues The installation of VDRs is an important safety issue for all marine operators. Automatic data recording devices provide crucial factual information for accident investigation and play a key role in identifying and addressing causal factors . While it can be argued that the VDR may not be a first line safety tool , such as a life jacket or fire extinguisher , it certainly has great value in ensuring that a vessel is operated safely , that its gear is performing as intended , and that the crews are performing as required by regulation , company policy , and the general rules of “good seamanship”. VDR as a Management Tool The VDR provides the vessel operator and owner with information that can be used to better manage the vessel’s operation.. and provides the owner/operator with a comprehensive record of what occurred in an event , thereby assisting in the event of some tort action . The management benefits derived from installing a VDR system would quickly offset the cost of its installation . NTSB report conclusions on VDRs Abstract from paper submitted by Michael T . Brown (National Transportation Safety Board) VDR Safety Issues The installation of VDRs is an important safety issue for all marine operators. Automatic data recording devices provide crucial factual information for accident investigation and play a key role in identifying and addressing causal factors . While it can be argued that the VDR may not be a first line safety tool , such as a life jacket or fire extinguisher , it certainly has great value in ensuring that a vessel is operated safely , that its gear is performing as intended , and that the crews are performing as required by regulation , company policy , and the general rules of “good seamanship”. VDR as a Management Tool The VDR provides the vessel operator and owner with information that can be used to better manage the vessel’s operation.. and provides the owner/operator with a comprehensive record of what occurred in an event , thereby assisting in the event of some tort action . The management benefits derived from installing a VDR system would quickly offset the cost of its installation . Incidents Involving Vessels Fitted with VDR VDR Data assists in identifying the causes of incidents at sea 1. RO-RO ferry in collision with fishing vessel Radar information gained from the ferry’s VDR proved incontrovertibly that the fishing vessel had made a large alteration of course across the ferry’s bow moments before the collision, contrary to the Collision Regulations. Unfortunately bridge audio data which might have given insight to the human factors that lay behind the accident was lost to the investigators due to background noise from a radio which had been playing in the wheelhouse for entertainment. 2. Near collision between passenger ferry and general cargo VDR information enabled the investigators to establish the true course of events which was contrary to both the masters’ accounts. Shortfalls in bridge team management were uncovered to the benefit of the individuals involved, the owners and training establishments. 3. Passenger vessel lost power on a lee shore in gale force winds VDR information enabled a detailed analysis of the bridge team’s actions in an emergency situation to be carried out. Many shortfalls in performance were uncovered to the benefit of the bridge team, the owners and training establishments. 4. Vessel berthing at builder's yard for guarantee dry docking hit jetty whilst under pilotage sustaining $150,000 steel damage When the yard was made aware that Pilot’s actions had been recorded, they paid for repairs without question 5. Vessel leaving NW European port hit coaster glancing blow sustaining minimal damage When bridge team’s actions were reviewed, procedures were found to require modification 6. Vessel struck charted rock at speed, sustaining considerable bottom damage Evidence from VDR tape allowed management to review Pilots and OOW’s actions prior to grounding, allowing remedial action to be taken well in advance of Flag State report 7. Vessel rounding Ushant was in close quarters situation whilst overtaking another vessel Evidence from the VDR enabled management to review the OOW’s actions and take necessary remedial action 8. Vessel entering continental port was in collision with yacht Evidence from the VDR absolved the Master of all blame 9. Vessel dragged anchor in high winds and touched another ship anchored to leeward Evidence from the VDR allowed the Management to review action by the OOW and provided the P&I club with the evidence they required to settle the claim 10. Loaded vessel outward bound was in collision with inbound vessel in port access, resulting in considerable delay The VDR provided irrefutable evidence of the action of both ships, avoiding the cost of taking witness statements 11. Vessel entering port in narrow channel struck an underwater object The VDR showed the ship to be right on track in the dredged channel, thus absolving the Master from blame or criticism 12. High speed close quarters incident with warship The VDR provided evidence that clearly confirmed that the HSC Commander had taken the correct action when the warship failed to give way as required by Colregs 13. Vessel berthing in high wind A review of the evidence from the VDR confirmed that in general terms, the personnel concerned had taken the correct action, but some areas for improvement and training needs were also identified 14. Engine room fire A review of the evidence from the VDR confirmed that in general terms, the personnel concerned had taken the correct action, but some areas for improvement and training needs were also identified 15. Fire in funnel The VDR assisted Management in identifying a possible design fault in the vessel’s fire detection system, which explained the slow response from the Bridge Watchkeepers to initial reports of the fire. A review of the wording of messages from the vessel also helped to explain an apparent over-reaction to the incident by the Coastguard Data Ownership and Recovery An abstract of conclusions reached by I.M.O. F.S.I. Sub-Committee 9 Recovery of VDR In the case of non-catastrophic accident recovery of the memory should be straightforward. This action will have to be taken soon after the accident to best preserve the relevant evidence for use by both the investigator and the ship owner. As the investigator is very unlikely to be in a position to instigate this action soon enough after the accident, the owner must be responsible, through its on-board standing orders, for ensuring the timely preservation of this evidence in this circumstance. In the case of abandonment of a vessel during an emergency, masters should be instructed, where time and other responsibilities permit, to recover the memory and remove it to a place of safety and to preserve it until it can be passed to the investigator. In the case of a catastrophic accident, where a vessel has sunk and the data has not been retrieved prior to abandonment, a decision will need to be taken by the Flag State in consultation with any other substantially interested states on the viability of recovering the protective capsule against the potential use of the information. If it is decided to recover the capsule the investigator should be responsible for its recovery. The possibility of the capsule having sustained damage must be considered and specialist expertise will be required to ensure the best chance of recovering and preserving the evidence. In addition the assistance and co-operation of the owners, insurers and the manufacturers of the VDR and those of the protective capsule may be required. Custody of VDR/data In all circumstances, during the course of an investigation, the investigator should have custody of the original VDR data, perhaps in the form of the whole or part(s) of the VDR itself, in the same way as he has custody of other records or evidence under the Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents. Ownership of VDR/data The ship owner will, in all circumstances and at all times, own the VDR and its data. Read-out of VDR/data In all circumstances the responsibility to arrange down loading and read-out of the data from the recovered memory in whatever form should, in the first instance, be undertaken by the investigator who should keep the ship owner fully informed. Additionally, especially in the case of a catastrophic accident where the memory may have sustained damage, the assistance of specialist expertise may be required to ensure the best chance of success. Access to the data Although the investigator will have custody of the original VDR memory in whatever form for the duration of the investigation, a copy of the data must be provided to the ship owner in all circumstances. Further access to the data will be governed by the applicable domestic legislation of the flat state, coastal state and the lead investigating state as appropriate and the guidelines given in the Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents. A Lawyer's Perspective The use of S-VDR data as evidence in litigation and Court proceedings. Perhaps the single most important point concerning a VDR from a lawyer’s point of view is that a VDR record is a discoverable document which is not privileged – i.e. the existence of the record must be disclosed to the opposing party on discovery and if requested to do so the opposing party must be allowed access to the document and/or provided with a copy. In any Court proceedings the evidence which carries most weight is contemporaneous evidence, particularly if it requires no human input. Before the advent of VDRs such contemporaneous evidence was usually limited to course recorders and telegraph/engine/propeller pitch recorders. Evidence progressively carrying less weight with the Courts would include “contemporaneous” documents requiring human input – e.g. the working chart, engine movement books/rough bridge log books etc. and then into non- contemporaneous documents such as perhaps deck/engine room log books (usually written at the end of the watch), witnesses statements etc. In many cases this information is however insufficient to conclusively prove the full sequence of events. Details such as sound signals made, communications between vessels prior to a collision, observations of approaching vessels etc. could often only be proved by recourse to witness testimony. A record from a VDR is not only contemporaneous but virtually irrefutable evidence of what occurred. Having such evidence available might in some instances avoid the need for witness evidence and therefore avoid not only the uncertainty surrounding witnesses giving evidence and their cross examination by opposing Counsel, but also the attendant costs involved including making the witnesses available, getting them to the Court, possibly employment of translators and the necessary lengthening of hearings with increased solicitor’s and Counsel’s costs. The existence of a VDR, dependent upon how comprehensive the data recorded, will be the majority of cases be able to clarify the actual events which occurred enabling any inconsistencies in the witness evidence to be picked up at an early stage. If necessary the witnesses can then be re-interviewed to clarify the anomalies. Owners/lawyers will as a result have broadly consistent evidence and the considerable advantage for negotiation purposes of knowing the exact facts involved and, if necessary, being able to prove it. A Marine Underwriter's Perspective Risk reduction by fitting S-VDR is a reality. There is no doubt that the shipping industry can learn a lot from the world of Aviation and this is certainly a point of view held by eminent parsonages such as Lord Carver and Lord Donaldson. The lessons learnt from, “black-box” information following air crashes has obviously done a lot to improve the safety in this industry. The lessons learnt have also given the operators data to enable them to reduce the human element proportion of air disasters. So how can any one argue against a similar initiative in the Marine world? As underwriters we can see the potential advantages that VDRs will bring in reducing the insurance risks. There is always room for improvement, and, as lessons are learned from VDR playbacks ship operators will be able to respond with meaningful loss prevention actions which will have a beneficial effect on their insurance results. VDRs will also provide a reliable and unbiased witness at times of accidents involving other parties. Here again VDR evidence will do a lot to reduce legal costs and the sterile wrangles about who is to blame. "A NEED TO KNOW" - Lloyds List A powerful tool to ensure fairness in the event of an accident. The Voyage Data Recorder is far removed from the “spy on the bridge” which made navigators suspicious of them when they were first introduced on a voluntary basis on ferries, passenger ships and some other vessels in the 1980s. One has only to study the court transcripts of any collision or grounding case where the ships involved were not so fitted to realise one powerful argument for fitting VDRs to all ships. Endless arguments about “bell books”, accusations of about conflicting recollections; meat and drink for lawyers, but a clear sense that there really ought to be a better way of resolving these disputes. And VDRs, which have become more compact, cheaper and a good deal more sophisticated, can pay their way, and not merely for their evident benefits. Those who employ them derive useful performance, information from their equipment, which directly benefits the bottom line. But best of all, VDRs ought to be a powerful weapon in ensuring that there is fairness and justice after a marine incident. All too often, one suspects, blameless seafarers have their careers ruined because of the niceties of the law and the habits of judges who apportion blame in a way that professionals often find baffling. The ability to replay an accident will remove so much of the doubts as to what actually happened. First S-VDR Type Approval Kelvin Hughes successfully achieves Type Approval from QinetiQ for its MantaDigital Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (S-VDR). Building on its success in the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) market, the system is based on the group’s proven technology in the aviation field making it the only S-VDR that is completely designed and manufactured within a single organisation. Testing was successfully concluded recently with QinetiQ, the UK government’s nominated body for UK Type Approval of marine equipment.. Peter Goddard, Head of Approval at QinetiQ said, "There can be a rush to fit new equipment as the mandatory carriage dates get close. QinetiQ is please to help by arranging type approval so that early availability of proven equipment helps installation schedules."
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