When a vessel experiences an accident like a fire, collision or grounding, it’s important to be able to reconstruct the events that happened right before the accident in order to determine its cause. If injuries or deaths occurred as a result of the accident, the evidence recovered afterwards will be critical in establishing what happened to cause the accident, why the accident occurred and who, if anyone, was responsible.
One of the first things investigators do after a marine accident is recover the information stored within a vessel’s Voyage Data Recorder, or VDR. VDRs are data recording devices that serve the same function as an airplane’s black box flight recorder. All passenger ships and other vessels above 3,000gt that are subject to SOLAS regulations must carry a VDR onboard.
To be compliant with SOLAS regulations, a VDR must be connected to a vessel’s bridge controls, navigation instruments and alarm systems. In addition, the Voyage Data Recorder must be able to make audio recordings of the bridge, so any orders or conversations made right before, during and right after the incident can be examined by investigators.
What Kind of Information Does a Voyage Data Recorder Collect?
The VDR is contained within a tamper-proof protective storage unit that is reinforced to withstand extreme impact, pressure, heat and other conditions that could be encountered during a maritime accident. Some of the data a VDR collects includes:
- Position, date, time using GPS
- Ship’s Heading
- Speed and acceleration
- Wind speed and direction
- Hull stresses
- Main alarms
- Depth under keel
- Status of hull doors as indicated on the bridge
- Watertight & fire doors status
- Accelerations and hull stresses
- Engine/propeller status
- Rudder order and response
- Audio from the bridge (including bridge wings)
- Radio communications
Although the data retrieved from a VDR is most often used in accident investigations, the information it records has other applications as well, such as improving operating efficiency, reducing costs, crew training and equipment maintenance.
Speak With a New Orleans Maritime Injury Attorney
If you are a seaman who suffered an onboard injury due to the unseaworthiness of your vessel or the error of a crew member, the Jones Act and other maritime laws give you the right to seek damages for the losses caused by your injuries.
The maritime injury attorneys at the Lambert Firm have been protecting the rights of seamen and other maritime workers who have been injured in on the job accidents for over 40 years. Proving that your injuries were caused by the negligence of a ship’s owner or crew is critical to winning any maritime injury claim. Our ability to fully investigate the cause of a maritime accident, including obtaining and interpreting the data recorded by a vessel’s Voyage Data Recorder, has enabled us to recover millions in settlements for our clients.
Contact the Lambert Firm today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced New Orleans maritime injury lawyer. We are eager to review your case and provide frank and honest feedback about your legal options. The Lambert Firm is headquartered in New Orleans, but we represent clients injured in maritime accidents all over the U.S., including the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean as well as the Mississippi River and other inland waterways.