When you think of a steering wheel, the first thing that may come to mind is the one inside your car. But what about the steering wheel on a ship? It turns out, it’s not called a steering wheel at all.
The steering mechanism on a ship is referred to as a helm. It consists of a wheel, a rudder, and the components that connect them. The helm is used to control the direction of a ship, much like a car’s steering wheel does for a vehicle.
The wheel itself is often large and made of metal or wood. It can be turned by the captain or a member of the crew using mechanical or hydraulic power. The rudder is a flat surface located at the back of the ship that pivots left or right to steer the vessel. The movement of the helm turns the rudder and alters the direction of the ship.
While the helm may have a similar function to a steering wheel, it serves a much more important purpose. The steering of a ship is critical to the safety and efficiency of a voyage. Even minor changes in direction can affect the speed, fuel consumption, stability, and navigation of a ship. To navigate through challenging weather conditions, busy waterways, and other obstacles, the helm must be precisely controlled.
In addition to the helm, ships also use instruments such as compasses, rudder angle indicators, and autopilot systems to aid in steering. They also have designated areas on board called the bridge or wheelhouse where the captain and crew can monitor the helm and navigate the ship.
So, the next time you find yourself on a ship or watching one from the shore, take a moment to appreciate the importance of the helm and the skilled individuals who operate it. And remember, it’s not just a steering wheel, it’s a helm.