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Steering gear requirement for various ship types

Every ocean going cargo ship need to be provided with a main steering gear and an auxiliary steering gear unless the main steering gear comprises two or more identical power units. The main steering gear is to be capable of putting the rudder over from 35° on one side to 35° on the other side with the ship at its deepest draft and running ahead at maximum service speed, and under the same conditions from 35° on either side to 30° on the other side in not more than 28 seconds. It is to be power operated where necessary to meet the above conditions and where the stock diameter exceeds 120mm.



The auxiliary steering gear is to be capable of putting the rudder over 15° on one side to 15° on the other side in not more than 60 seconds with the ship at its deepest draft and running ahead at half the maximum service speed or 7 knots whichever is greater. Power operated auxiliary steering gear is required if necessary to meet the forgoing requirement or where the rudder stock diameter exceeds 230 mm.

The main steering gear for oil tankers, chemical tankers or gas carriers of 10 000 gross tonnage or more and every other ship of 70 000 gross tonnage or more is to consist of two or more identical power units which are capable of operating the rudder as indicated for the main steering gear above and whilst operating with all power units. If a passenger ship, this requirement is to be met when any one of the power units is inoperable.

4 ram steering gear

Fig:Typical 4 ram steering gear arrangement for cargo ships

Steering gear control for power operated main and auxiliary steering gears is from the bridge and steering gear compartment, the auxiliary steering gear control being independent of the main steering gear control (but not duplication of the wheel or steering lever).

Steering gear on ocean-going ships is generally of the electro-hydraulic type.

Where the rudder stock is greater than 230 mm an alternative power supply is to be provided automatically from the ship’s emergency power supply or from an independent source of power located in the steering gear compartment.

The steering gear provides a movement of the rudder in response to a signal from the bridge. The total system may be considered made up of three parts, control equipment, a power unit and a transmission to the rudder stock. The control equipment conveys a signal of desired rudder angle from the bridge and activates the power unit and transmission system until the desired angle is reached. The power unit provides the force, when required and with immediate effect, to move the rudder to the desired angle. The transmission system, the steering gear, is the means by which the movement of the rudder is accomplished.

Steering gears can be arranged with hydraulic control equipment known as a 'telemeter', or with electrical control equipment. The power unit may in turn be hydraulic or electrically operated. Each of these units will be considered in turn, with the hydraulic unit pump being considered first. A pump is required in the hydraulic system which can immediately pump fluid in order to provide a hydraulic force that will move the rudder. Instant response does not allow time for the pump to be switched on and therefore a constantly running pump is required which pumps fluid only when required. A variable delivery pump provides this facility.

Generally, work should not be done on steering gear when a ship is under way. If it is necessary to work on steering gear when the vessel is at sea, the ship should be stopped and suitable steps taken to immobilise the rudder by closing the valves on the hydraulic cylinders or by other appropriate and effective means.



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