DO CRUISE SHIPS CARRY A BLACK BOX RECORDER, THE SAME AS COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT?
All cruise vessels carry a voyage data recorder, the marine equivalent of the black box flight data recorder.
Since 2002 this has been mandatory for all passenger ships over 3000 gross tonnes. Contained within a tamper-proof shell designed to withstand fire, shock, immersion and pressure and generally located outside on the top deck, the VDR stores digital data relating to the last 12 hours of a vessel’s current voyage.
Among other vital information, the VDR records the ship’s position and speed, its bearing, the date and time, radar data, audio recordings and all telephone communications from the bridge, depth under the keel, wind and weather, rudder position, engine rpms and the status of all alarms and watertight doors.
This data is collected from sensors all around the ship and it’s vital in providing answers if ever the question is asked of a ship’s officers, “What happened?”
It was evidence from the ship’s VDR that helped sink Captain Francesco Schettino. After he drove the Costa Concordia on to rocks when he sailed too close to the Italian coast, audio from the bridge recorded Schettino saying: “Madonna, what have I done?” even though for the next hour he continued to assure passengers and the Italian Coast Guard that the vessel had merely suffered a blackout.
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