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Opeartion of steering gear and required check items for safe navigation of cargo ship

Ships steering gear consist of the machinery, rudder actuators, steering gear power units, and the means of applying torque to the rudder stock necessary for effecting movements of the rudder. Two types of electrohydraulically-powered steering gears are in common use: the ram and the rotary vane. The following are the basic guidelines for the confirmation of the steering gear's operation :

The OOW shall confirm the rudder operation by the Manual steering gear, at least once a watch, and Every time Before the vessel enters Coastal, Congested, or Confined waters or Area affected by Heavy weather.

The Officer of the watch shall confirm operation of the rudder by the use of "Non-follow-up" steering system.

Before the vessel enters Congested / Confined waters or during Heavy Weather, the OOW shall start an Additional steering motor.

The Officer shall operate and confirm normal operation of the stand-by power unit of steering gear and stand-by Auto-pilot system at least once every two (2) weeks.

Also, the interval of Switching-over of Steering gear Power units and Auto-pilot systems should be within one (1) month.

Item to check on steering gear

The vessel shall prepare a ship specific steering gear inspection check record including the following items, and the crew shall inspect the Steering gear compartment Once every day at sea.

Also, the results of this record are to be confirmed by the Chief Engineer, and any remarkable observation should be reported to The Master immediately.

This record shall be kept on board for One year after the entry.

Items to be confirmed at least:

Amount of Hydraulic Oil in the tank (to be within the manufacturer's recommended value)

Temperature of Hydraulic oil in the tanks (to be within the manufacturer's recommended value)

Steering Gear Motors' Electric Currents are well within manufacturer's recommended values

Pressure of the Hydraulic cylinder (to be within the manufacturer's recommended value)

All Filter indicators on Hydraulic oil lines showing clean visual condition

Flow indicator of Cooling water for the Rudder Neck Bearing

Inspection of the color of oil for Rudder Carrier Bearing. If the greasing system is in place, then to ensure adequate greasing carried out manually, at least once a day and in the case of automatic system, replenish the grease in the container

Any leakage of water into Rudder Trunk (from sounding pipe if fitted)

Any leakage of Hydraulic oil

Grease supply (to steering gear Roller Bearings and the Ram).

Related Information

Emergency response to steering gear failure

Safety of navigation in Singapore strait

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