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  • Ship's wheel

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    Iconic image of a helmsman at a ship's wheel: the Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial. A ship's wheel or boat's wheel is a device used aboard a water vessel to change that vessel's course. Together with the rest of the steering mechanism, it forms part of the helm. It is connected to a mechanical, electric servo, or hydraulic system which alters the vertical angle of the vessel's rudder relative to its hull. In some modern ships the wheel is replaced with a simple toggle that remotely controls an electro-mechanical or electro-hydraulic drive for the rudder, with a rudder position indicator presenting feedback to the helmsman.

  • Steering wheel (ship)

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  • Helmsman

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    The bridge of the freighter shown here has two steering stands. This redundancy is a safety measure in case one of the steering mechanisms that control the ship's rudder fails. A helmsman or helm is a person who steers a ship, sailboat, submarine, other type of maritime vessel, or spacecraft. On small vessels, particularly privately owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch, who is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and gives orders to the helmsman. In the merchant marine, the person at the helm is usually an able seaman, particularly during ship arrivals, departures, and while maneuvering in restricted waters or other conditions requiring precise steering. An ordinary seaman is commonly restricted to steering in open waters. Moreover, military ships may have a seaman or quartermaster at the helm. A professional helmsman maintains a steady course, properly executes all rudder orders, and communicates to the officer on the bridge using navigational terms relating to ship's heading and steering.

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