THE CHAIN LOCKER
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Officials board ENRICA LEXIE after incident
You remember the shooting of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines (see Fishermen Shot in the Categories list on the right side of this page for an Indian TV report). The Italian crew had mistaken the fishing boat for a pirate craft. The dustup between Italy and India over the incident has only gotten worse, now compounded by the mysterious deaths of two more Indian fishermen, who were run down by another (as yet unidentified) ship - here is a link to that story: 

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/2-fishermen-killed-in-hit-and-run-at-sea--hunt-on-for-unidentified-ship/918912/

POST EDIT: The ship suspected in the hit-n-run, MV PRABHU DAYA, has arrived in Chennai Port and will be examined by Indian investigators tomorrow. And a third fishermen's body has been found. So here's a link to that story as well: 

http://zeenews.india.com/news/kerala/suspected-singapore-ship-reaches-chennai_762428.html

Anyway, back to ENRICA LEXIE: As the case unfolds, Indian investigators have announced that not only do they not have ENRICA LEXIE's log, but that the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR, or Black Box) data covering the time frame of the shooting is also missing - apparently recorded over. Of course, the Captain should have kept the data in case it was needed. It's apparently unclear at this time whether the loss of the data was purposeful or accidental. See the link:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Italian-ships-black-box-data-missing/articleshow/12116302.cms

I've never been involved in anything that required us to reference the VDR, except for some good-natured comparisons of steering accuracy we used to engage in when I was a young sailor - we'd look at the course records for our respective watches to see who did the best job!  

We never had a serious reason to preserve the data, so I've little experience in that area. I don't want to criticize the Captain without knowing more about the circumstances. It doesn't seem that the VDR data would represent any kind of "smoking gun," in any case. 

Had it been preserved, it would show the maneuvers the vessel took to avoid the supposed "pirates", of course. I'm not sure what value that would have, unless it happened to show that they hadn't taken any - that might bear on whether they had undertaken sufficient less drastic defensive measures prior to resorting to lethal force.

Much more to come in this case. I'd welcome your comments and observations, as situations like this bear directly on the modern seaman's safety and security - and on the actions we are permitted to undertake to preserve it - in today's complex maritime world!