Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Sperry Marine unit has introduced a mission data recorder (MDR) for the military market that automatically logs and stores critical data from shipboard sensors and systems.
The MDR is the military equivalent of Sperry Marine’s voyage data recorder currently approved and certified to meet all requirements required by the International Maritime Organisation for all passenger and new cargo ships over 3,000 gross tonnage by July 1, 2002.
Installed as either a stand-alone system or as a core element in a complete integrated bridge system, the MDR reportedly captures operation, navigation, machinery and tactical information and stores it in protected memory.
The historical shipboard data can be played back onboard or accessed remotely from shore for near real-time access to vital data from the ship. This data includes voice recordings from the bridge, combat information centre, fire control and damage control centre, along with inputs from the ship’s navigation and control systems.
MDR data can be saved to an optional hardened memory capsule. Similar to an aircraft ‘black box,’ the memory capsule has been tested to withstand extreme water pressure and heat. It is designed to be mounted on the ship’s superstructure, where it can be recovered after an incident. A single-handed, quick-release mechanism simplifies recovery and a sonar transmitter facilitates search and recovery by submersible vehicles in the event of a sinking.
The MDR has been designed to accommodate a wide range of interface formats through the use of a sensor interface unit (SIU). Comprising industrial signal conditioning modules, the SIU is said to accept all analogue, serial and digital signal types. The SIU conditioning modules can be ‘hot swapped’ in the field for rapid replacement with minimum downtime.
Audio signals from the bridge and other areas are collected via a customised audio module, which digitises and compresses voice and radio communication recordings to enable data storage capability to be maximised.