Steering the Ship, Continued
Steering the ship during underway replenishment is no simple task.
There are more factors to consider other than wind and current. When
two ships are alongside, a vortex effect is created. This vortex works
like a cushion between the two ships, normally pushing them apart
slightly. Also, when the rigs are tensioned, the ships are pulled together
Close attention to keeping the ship exactly on course cannot be stressed
enough. Use the least amount of rudder to accomplish this. Often, the
master helmsman will be required to steer courses on 0.5 degrees such
as 010.5. While unreping .5° is the maximum deviation allowed from
ordered course. Also, ships alongside often make turns while rigs are
hooked up. This requires the ship on the outside of the turn to slightly
increase speed. This type of maneuver is normally completed in
5-degree increments until the final course is reached.
Prior to beginning a UNREP, the bridge watch team should go over
emergency procedures for loss of steering.
Steering the ship in restricted waters requires precise shiphandling. As
with UNREP evolutions, every effort must be made to stay exactly on
ordered course. Often the ship will be transiting narrow channels where
tidal currents may be strong. This is not much of a problem when the
bow is pointed into the current; however, a strong current from astern
can cause the bow to fall off course. This is especially true when the
ships speed is 10 knots or less.
Special evolutions include general quarters, launching of amphibious
craft, or whenever the OOD or navigator requires that the more
experienced master helmsman man the helm.
Steering the ship from after steering requires total concentration. This is
due mainly to the fact that there is nothing to see and the trick wheels
used to move the rudders face towards the stem. If steering control is
lost on the bridge, steering control will be shifted to the after steering
helmsman. The after steering helmsman will receive orders directly
from the conning officer (relayed by the helm safety officer) or from the
rudder angle order indicator.