All vessels of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after July 1, 2002, must carry voyage data recorders (VDRs) to assist in accident investigations, under regulations adopted in 2000, which entered into force on July 1, 2002.

Like the black boxes carried on airplanes, VDRs enable accident investigators to review procedures and instructions in the moments before an incident and help to identify the cause of any accident.

The VDR should continuously maintain sequential records of preselected data items relating to status and output of the ship's equipment and command and control of the ship. 

The VDR should be installed in a protective capsule that is brightly coloured and fitted with an appropriate device to aid location. It should be entirely automatic in normal operation.

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