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London P&I Club Warns On Failure To Preserve Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) Data
In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the London P&I Club says that its ship inspection programme confirms that the operation of Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) units is generally well-understood by its shipowner members. But it notes that there have nevertheless been instances where masters have failed to perform the steps required to preserve VDR data, or failed to recognise circumstances in which such data – and particularly voice traffic on VHF and on the bridge – may be very valuable in the defence of a claim.
The club notes that onboard emergency guidance manuals usually contain aide memoir sheets to assist the master with those structured and ordered tasks which need to be taken in priority order, and are aimed at ensuring that steps are not missed in an emergency. It advises its members to consider the insertion or addition of VDR data saves in an appropriate position on such lists.
We remind shipping Owners, management companies, and vessels’ Masters, that as part of the the policies, procedures, and training implemented by Knight Associates, within our clients’ fleets, we strongly recommend to save all VDR data after a piracy incident that culminates in an attack. For authorities to gain the chance of a successful conviction, evidence must be collated, accurate and irrefutable.
Whilst the Master and Bridge crew are carrying out the many tasks required during an attack incident, the collection of information on the pirates, their weapons, equipment, and boats, is not usually conducted until after an incident. Repeated studies have proven that eye-witness statements taken from memory are the least reliable sources of evidence. Knight Associates train to utilise the Voyage Data Recorder capability as an asset, and to give running detailed commentary during an incident, in order to later collect the accurate recorded voice data.