Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FTV 2/16/11

Some people ask what it is that steers our ship. Automobiles have a steering wheel connected to the two front wheels: ships have a slightly different system. Our ship has a steering wheel, but we call it the helm.. Instead of wheels to turn us, we have a rudder. The rudder directs water in a different direction as it passes over the surface. We can move our rudder left and right depending on the direction we want to go. The faster we move the rudder over to one side, the quicker the ship will turn.

Our helm is on the bridge, the rudder is at the stern just aft of the propeller. There is a signal sent from the helm all the way to the steering machinery which moves the rudder. This steering machinery is more commonly called the steering gear and is made up of a series of hydraulic pumps that move the rudder. There are two main pumps, one port and one starboard. These are our two main operating pumps. We alternate between each of them evenly to make sure that the wear on each is equal as to can keep them in good working order. In case one pump was to fail, we could switch to the other pump.

In the unlikely case that our helm could not operate the pumps there is a series of backups on the steering gear that allow us to steer directly from the steering gear room. The rudder is very big and doesn't move as fast as the wheels on a car. When the helmsman moves the helm one way, it takes a few extra seconds for the rudder to register the command and reach that position. The rudder is essential for the maneuverability of the ship.


Are small rudders or large rudders more effective?

Does the shape of a rudder effect how it turns?

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