The U.S. Coast Guard
has certified Northrop Grumman Corporation as an authorized annual service provider for shipboard voyage data recorders (VDRs).
The certification was awarded to Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine
business unit, a leading supplier of VDR systems for commercial shipping fleets worldwide. Sperry Marine
is authorized to conduct required annual performance tests on VoyageMaster VDR units. The shipboard inspections will be performed by Sperry Marine’s worldwide network of field service offices.
Shipboard VDRs are similar to the “black box” cockpit data recorders used on aircraft, recording data from the ship’s sensors and audio from the bridge in a protective capsule that can be retrieved for analysis following an incident at sea. VDRs are currently required by the international Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention on all new ships over 3,000 gross tons. A new carriage requirement, adopted last year under the SOLAS regulations, requires a simplified voyage data recorder (S-VDR) to be retrofitted on existing cargo ships over the next few years.
The International Maritime Organization requires that shipboard VDRs and S-VDRs, including all interfaced sensors, must be inspected and recertified annually, on or before the anniversary date of the original installation. The tests must be conducted by an approved testing or servicing facility to verify the accuracy, duration and recoverability of the recorded data.
Sperry Marine has also been certified as an approved service supplier by American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register, Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd to perform annual tests.