The latest episode in the Costa Concordia saga has raised the importance of voyage data recorders (VDR). Clearly the data recorded in these black boxes can be crucial when it comes to investigating an accident. But what about before an accident happens? The International Convention on Safety of Life as Sea states that VDRs must be consistently operational. Port State Control can detain passenger ships if they find that the VDR is faulty. Therefore when what Costa Cruises terms an “error code” was found on the VDR, should this have been repaired before the vessel was allowed to continue on its course?
Safety experts would argue yes. Which raises the question how often small safety problems on an operational level are simply allowed to slide. The cruise industry’s operational safety review in full swing and has made some worthwhile new policies. It is a reactionary move, however. If a contraption similar to a VDR had existed for the whole industry previously, the information gleamed about the cruise industry – and in particular the light it might have shed on whether the events of January 13 were particularly unique – would have made very interesting reading.
http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/sector/regulation/article402195.ece/Tuesday 03 July 2012