Steering gear: SOLAS requirements, test, Drill and Maintenance Onboard

The steering gear is one of the important auxiliary machinery of the vessel, In this blog, I am going to discuss Steering gear solas requirement, test, drill and maintenance onboard.

Steering gear SOLAS requirement

As per SOLAS (International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea)
ChapterII-1 – Construction-Structure, Subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations
Part-C – Machinery Installation
Regulation Number 29– Steering gear

  • Every ship shall be provided with a main steering gear and an auxiliary steering gear. The main steering gear and auxiliary steering gear shall be so arranged that the failure of one of them will not render the other one inoperative.
  • In case of failure of main steering gear, the second one should start within 45 seconds.
  • The relief valve shall be fitted to any part of the hydraulic system which can be isolated and in which pressure can be generated from the power source or from the external force.
  • Relief valve also should function in case of maladjustment of hunting gear in case rudder coming in contact with some foreign objects or rudder movement gets restricted.
  • The design pressure of steering gear component hydraulic pressure shall be tested at least 1.25 times of the maximum working pressure to be expected.
  • The main steering gear and rudder stock shall be-
     Of adequate strength and capable of steering the ship at maximum ahead service speed which shall be demonstrated.
     Capable of steering 35° on one side to 35° on the other side with the ship at its deepest seagoing draught and running ahead at maximum ahead service speed and under the same condition, from 35° on either side to 30° on the other side in not more than 28 seconds.
     Rudder so designed that they will not damage at maximum astern speed.
  • The auxiliary steering gear shall be-
     Of adequate strength and capable of steering the ship at navigable speed and of being brought speedily into action in an emergency.
     Capable of steering from 15° on one side to 15° on the other side in not more than 60 seconds with the ship at its deepest seagoing draught and running ahead at one half of the maximum ahead service speed or 7 knots, whichever is the greater.
  • The main and auxiliary steering gear power unit shall be-
     Arranged to restart automatically when power is restored after a power failure.
     Failure of any one power unit an audible and visual alarm shall be given on the navigation bridge.
     Where the main steering gear comprises two or more identical power unit, an auxiliary steering gear need not be fitted, provided that the main steering gear is so arranged that after a single failure in its piping system or in one of the power units the defect can be isolated so that steering capability can be maintained or speedily regained.
  • The steering gear control for main steering gear shall be provided both on the navigation bridge and in the steering compartment.
  • The steering gear control for auxiliary steering gear shall be provided in the steering compartment and, if power operated, it shall also be operable from the navigation bridge and shall be independent of the control system for the main steering gear.

At bridge control of steering gear, it should be in the position to operate under manual mode (Follow up and Non-Follow up) and autopilot mode. Change over the switch to be provided in wheelhouse so that in case of the emergency operator can change over control to steering room if necessary.

Steering gear testing and drill

  • As per Solas (International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea)
    Chapter V- Safety of Navigation
    Regulation Number 26– Steering gear testing and drill
  • Within 12 hours before departure, the ship’s steering gear shall be checked and tested by the ship’s crew. The test procedure shall include, where applicable, the operation of the following
     The main steering gear
     The auxiliary steering gear
     The remote steering gear control systems;
     The steering positions located on the navigation bridge
     The emergency power supply
     The rudder angle indicators in relation to the actual position of the rudder
     The remote steering gear control system power failure alarms;
     The steering gear power unit failure alarms
     Automatic isolating arrangements and other automatic equipment
  • The checks and tests shall include:
     The full movement of the rudder according to the required capabilities of the steering gear;
     A visual inspection of the steering gear and its connecting linkage
     The operation of the means of communication between the navigation bridge and steering gear compartment
  • Simple operating instructions with a block diagram showing the change-over procedures for remote steering gear control systems and steering gear power units shall be permanently displayed on the navigation bridge and in the steering compartment.
  • All ships’ officers concerned with the operation and/or maintenance of steering gear shall be familiar with the operation of the steering systems fitted on the ship and with the procedures for changing from one system to another.
  • In addition to the routine checks and tests, emergency steering drills shall take place at least once every three months in order to practice emergency steering procedures. These drills shall include direct control within the steering gear compartment, the communications procedure with the navigation bridge and, where applicable, the operation of alternative power supplies.
  • The Administration may waive the requirements to carry out the checks and tests prescribed in paragraphs 1 and 2 for ships which regularly engage on voyages of short duration. Such ships shall carry out these checks and tests at least once every week.

The date upon which the checks and tests prescribed in paragraphs 1 and 2 are carried out and the date and details of emergency steering drills carried out under paragraph 4, shall be recorded.

Safeties of the Steering gear

  • Relief valve for excess pressure
  • Short circuit trip
  • Hunting Gear
  • Buffer spring for as shock observer
  • Angle adjusting stop (Hand over position limit switch)
  • Double shock valve
  • Relief valve
  • Hydraulic oil tank level alarm
  • Overload alarm
  • 200% insulation
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Abhay Kumar

He is working as engineer in Shipping Corporation Of India, member of Nielsons Educational Forum. He is alumni of Marine Engineering & Research Institute(MERI) Mumbai. He loves driving and writing blog in his free time. Specialty : Tanker ship

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George Karagiorgis

Can you please inform me whether bilge alarm is compulsory to be fiited if the emergency fire pump is fitted in trunk in steering gear room?