Officer. The Conning Officer stands the watch in the
pilot house, but may be stationed on the open bridge
during complex tactical operations or when directed by
the OOD for indoctrinational purposes.
OF THE WATCH
The Boatswain's Mate of the watch (BMOW)
stands watch on the bridge when underway. His or her
primary duty is to assist the OOD in carrying out the
ship's routine and ensuring the efficient functioning of
the watch team. It is the responsibility of the BMOW to
see that all deck watch stations are manned, that all
watch standers in previous watch sections are relieved,
and that the oncoming enlisted watch team is in the
prescribed watch-standing uniform. The BMOW will
also assist the OOD in supervising and instructing
members of the watch in their duties.
OF THE WATCH
The Quartermaster of the watch (QMOW) is
stationed on the bridge, and reports to the OOD all
changes of weather, and temperature and barometer
readings. He or she must be a qualified helmsman, and
assist the OOD in navigational matters. The QMOW is
responsible for entering in the Ship's Log all data
required by current instructions or as directed by the
OOD, and for executing sunset and sunrise procedures.
The helmsman must have successfully completed
all personnel qualification standards for helmsmen and
be qualified by the navigator. The courses the helmsman
steers must be ordered by the conning officer.
The ability to steer can be attained only by practice.
The first fact to bear in mind is that the ship turns under
the compass card; the compass card itself remains
steady. Thus, when the card appears to be turning to the
left of the lubber's line, it really is the line (the ships
head) that is moving to the right. On all modern ships,
the wheel, rudder, and ship's head all move in the same
direction. To move the lubber's line and ship's head
back to the left, then, you must turn the wheel to the left.
As a new helmsman, you may use too much rudder.
This forcefulness is a natural trait, since when you turn
your auto steering wheel, your car immediately turns;
yet when you turn the ship's wheel a few degrees,
nothing happens, because time is required for the
steering engine to operate and for the ship to begin
answering its rudder.
When a ship is conned through a passage, such as
the Panama Canal, or up to a berth or anchorage, the
helmsman frequently is ordered to steer on a range,
landmark, light, or some other object, instead of by the
compass. Many helmsmen are so accustomed to the
compass that they become tense under these
circumstances. The simple truth is that it is always much
easier to hold a ship steady on some object ahead than
to keep on course by compass. Usually, the compass is
located well abaft the bow, and the ship's head can
swing quite a bit before the movement registers on the
card. However, when the bow or the forestay is lined up
with a mark ahead, the helmsman can see the ship go off
course the instant it starts to do so.
Have the ship steady on course before you
surrender the wheel to your relief. Inform your relief of
the course and the compass or repeater you are steering
by. If it is a gyro repeater, be sure you designate the
correct repeater (if more than one). Also inform your
relief of the equivalent course to steer by magnetic
compass if the gyro fails and, if you are zigzagging,
both the immediate course the ship is on and the base
course it will follow when it ceases to zigzag.
Tell your relief about any steering peculiarity you
discovered, such as Carrying a little right rudder, or
Carrying mostly left. Relay any order you received
that still is standing, such as NOTHING TO THE
LEFT, or STEADY ON COURSE 091. If you are
steering on a ship, range, landmark, or light, point it out
to your relief, making sure it is recognized.
Good steering gets the ship to its destination faster
by making mileage in the desired direction and by
cutting down the drag caused by use of the rudder. It
also enhances the reputation of the ship, lessens the
possibility of a steering casualty, and is important to the
safety of the ship. Every Seaman should, therefore,
make the most of every opportunity to learn to steer.
When on the helm, a Seaman should give exclusive
attention to steering, regardless of previous experience.
Orders to the Helmsman
The words port and starboard are never used when
giving orders to the helmsman. Years ago, right and left
were substituted because they are more distinct. When
an order necessitates a change of rudder angle to right
or left, the direction of change is always stated first,
such as RIGHT FULL RUDDER. Standard orders to