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Key Terms
Standard Engine Commands
Standard Rudder Commands
Maneuvering Commands

In preparation for your time in the ship

driving simulator will introduce you to the
key terms and commands for driving a
Keep in mind that the information
presented is only the basics and you
must use everything together to control
the ship.

Bow Front end of the ship

Stern Tail end of the ship
Port Left side of the ship
Starboard Right side of the ship
Screw Ship Propeller(s), used to control the
speed and/or direction of the ship
Rudder Device used to control the direction
of the ship
Bare steerage way Represents the
minimum speed a ship can travel and still
use the rudders to control the ship

The ships engines are most commonly used

together, as such engine commands begin with
All engines and be followed be either ahead
or back, then the speed
Independent engine commands will be covered
Engine commands are broken down into speed
ranges that vary by ship class, these ranges are

Emergency (for emergency backing only)

If a command is given just using the

speed range the helmsman will set the
speed to the middle of the range
You can also specify a specific speed
All engines ahead for 2/3s
All engines ahead flank for 30 knots

Rudder commands are prefaced with the

direction you wish to turn either left or right

The exception when using Hard rudder

commands, where the direction follows the
command Hard

Rudder commands are given using either a

specific degree or one of three common
The common terms are:
Standard 15 degrees
Full 30 degrees
Hard 35 degrees

When rudder commands are given the

helmsman will continue to turn the ship
until another command is given to put
the ship on the desired course
Left 10 degrees rudder
Right standard rudder

Maneuvering commands can consist of an

engine/rudder command or a combination
of both
Speed changes are done through using
engine commands
Course changes are done through using
rudder commands with a specified course
Course changes of less than 10 degrees
can be accomplished by using the
command Come left/right steer course

Shift your rudder The helmsman will

change the direction of the rudder to
previously defined amount
Steady as she goes The helmsman will
turn the ship to the course the ship was
on at the time the command was given
Meet her The helmsman will shift the
rudder the amount needed to stop the
ships turn

Ship handling is both a science and an art.

The science of ship handling uses a concept
know as split-ship
The split-ship concept requires you to think of
the ship in two parts (the bow and the stern)
Once the ship is divided actions are take to
control the bow and stern independently

The art of ship handling comes from an

intimate understanding of how your ship
responds to commands
Now that youve got the key terms down we
will move into application

Under split-ship, the bow of the ship is

controlled using one force and the stern is
controlled using a separate force.
For most ships the bow is controlled using
an external force such as a tug or a line.
The stern is controlled by using the ships
engines and rudders.
It is important to remember that even
through you are controlling the ship as two
parts, each part must be controlled

Ships that have two or more screws have the

advantage of being able to execute a twist
A twist is performed by operating the engines
and screws independently of one another.
To do this you order the screw on the outside side
you wish to turn, an ahead speed and the inside
screw an astern speed.
Port twist example: Starboard engines ahead 1/3,
port engines back 1/3
An easy way to remember this is to think about
how you would steer a bike, if you want to turn left
you pull back on the left handle bar and push the
right handlebar forward.

You will encounter some situations where

normal commands are too great to achieve
the desired results.
In these situations you can order small
changes to your course and speed.
For course adjustments, you can add the
word decimal to a course which indicates
half of a degree.

Example: Come left steer course 325 decimal.

For speed adjustments, you can alter your

speed by defining the specific revolutions for
the screw to turn.

Example: Indicate 75 rpms.

When you are mooring your ship, the

split-ship concept is key.
Your actions must be slow and methodical
to keep the ship out of danger.
Keep in mind that you need to allow for
your actions to take effect before making

One rule to keep in mind with

maneuvering with other vessels is the 32-1 rule.
The 3-2-1 rule states that you will not
pass no closer than 3000 yards ahead,
2000 yards abeam, or 1000 yards of
another vessel.
When working with an aircraft carrier or
large amphibious ship, these distances
represent miles.