Annual testing of VDR/S-VDR

The requirements for VDR and S-VDR systems to be subject of an annual testing has been approved by the revision of SOLAS Regulation V/20 and established by Regulation V/18.8.

An annual performance test aims to to determine that a VDR/S-VDR is operational as defined in the manufacturer’s specification.


VDR including all sensors, must have an annual performance test. The test should be carried out in accordance with the Revised Guidelines on Annual Testing of Voyage Data Recorders (VDR) and Simplified Voyage Data Recorders (S-VDR)- MSC.1/Circ.1222/Rev.1 and for VDR floatfree capsules approved in accordance with IMO Res. MSC.333(90), annual performance testing includes an examination according to MSC.1/Circ.1040/Rev.1 – “Revised Guidelines on Annual Testing of Satellite EPIRBs”.

The test should be performed by an approved service supplier to verify the accuracy, duration and recoverability of the recorded data.

What is more, the service supplier should be approved by the RO. The surveyor should also ensure that the vessel has a copy of a valid Certificate of Conformity (COC) which should include the following information:

  • Name and IMO number of the ship;
  • Date and place of successfully passed testing;
  • Make, model and serial number of the VDR;
  • Name and address of service supplier;
  • Name and signature of the technician carrying out the annual performance test;
  • Service supplier’s approval certificate number and the date of expiry of the service supplier’s Certificate.

Discrepancy from the requirements/interpretations discovered during the annual testing should be clarified with the RO prior to the issue of the Certificate of Conformity.

Preservation of evidence in case of casualty

The data recovered from the VDR in case of casualty are crucial, as it will help the investigators identify the root cause of the casualty.

Shipowners should issue standing orders to their crew members, in order to ensure the timely preservation of the evidence stored in the VDR/S-VDR.

If a ships sinks, the owners should take all necessary actions and cooperate with the investigating Administration, so as to recover and preserve the protective capsule and give all decoding instructions which are essential to recover the stored data.

Finally, initial and annual testing of the VDR/S-VDR is of key, as it will confirm that the system works properly.