Corriere della Sera reports that the VDR had been out of action since January 9, four days before the accident that led to the deaths of 32 people, and that no data at all was recorded after 11.36pm on 13 January.
As such, investigators have only been able to examine data from the ship's computer in their efforts to ascertain exactly what happened onboard, rather than having access to the full range of information that would usually be provided by the VDR.
According to the report, e-mails were sent from the Costa technical department to the company responsible for the maintenance of the VDR indicating that a decision had been taken to defer repairs on the system until the ship was scheduled to arrive at the port of Savona on January 14.
Further e-mail correspondence obtained by the investigators, sent from Pierfrancesco Ferro, head of Costa’s technical department, to the maintenance company, suggested that the problems with the VDR were ongoing, and that the system had malfunctioned previously.
Costa Crociere has denied that the VDR was malfunctioning, and Corriere della Sera has quoted the company as saying that “The black box was giving an error code that absolutely does not imply that the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) was not working.”
“This is proved by the fact that the contents of the black box comply perfectly with engineers’ expectations.”
“There is no international regulation or convention that decrees that a ship cannot sail in these conditions.”