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The loss of the MV Derbyshire: digital records released

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The loss of the MV Derbyshire: digital records released

MV Derbyshire portbow (digital preservation)

MV Derbyshire portbow (digital preservation)

The National Archives releases unique audio-visual records from the 1997 investigation into the tragic sinking of the Motor Vessel Derbyshire, following its most significant digital preservation project to date.

The Derbyshire sank in 1980 during a typhoon in the South China Sea with the loss of its entire crew. Following an inconclusive initial formal inquiry, the Derbyshire Family Association campaigned for a more detailed investigation into the tragedy. The subsequent lessons learned have led to widespread safety improvements that have contributed to a dramatic reduction in loss of life at sea.

From paper to digital

The release of the extensive records is a major step towards the future of archives, as official records move from paper-based to digital. These records have been loaded into The National Archives' Digital Object Store for permanent preservation, and some key material has been made freely available online.

Adrian Brown, Head of Digital Preservation Research at The National Archives, said: 'Working on the digital records from the MV Derbyshire investigation has been one The National's Archives most challenging projects to date. Digital records are considerably more fragile than paper or parchment, and a lot of work has been done to ensure that they are held in stable formats, that will stand the test of time.'

Mr Brown added that 'the release of these records is a testament to the skills and innovative thinking that are taking The National Archives into the 21st century.'

Giving an insight into how government archives will be accessed in the future, these key extracts from the investigation into the tragedy, are now available via Electronic Records Online.

Extracts of particular interest include:

Preserving records

Commenting on the challenges presented by this project, Howard Davies, Head of Information Management Consultants at The National Archives, said: 'The records of the MV Derbyshire enquiry provided some original challenges for The National Archives. They are the first records to come to us with such volumes of digital moving imagery and with the computer generated virtual simulations.

'It is important for the records of this significant enquiry to be preserved to inform future decision taking, and we are pleased to have developed technical solutions which mean the records will remain accessible to the public for years to come,' he added.

Paper records of the original inquiry are also available alongside the digitised re-opened investigation, which was conducted between 1997 and1998 and resulted in improved maritime regulations.

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