General Orders

No. 30 and 98


Orders to the Helm/Rudder

For centuries, orders to the helmsman were given in terms of the position of the tiller rather than the rudder. A helmsman would push a tiller in the opposite direction he wanted the vessel to turn. This practice continued even when a ship was steered by a wheel. Orders were not given in terms of the rudder until the second decade of the twentieth century. The change became official in the United States Navy in 1913, as promulgated in General Order No. 30, and clarified the following year in General Order No. 98.




General Order No. 30


GENERAL ORDER
No. 30


NAVY DEPARTMENT
Washington, D. C., May 5, 1913

Image of General Order, No. 30


ORDERS GOVERNING THE MOVEMENTS OF THE RUDDER.

1. On and after July 1, 1913, the present designations "starboard" and "port" governing movements of a ship's helm are hereby ordered discontinued in orders or directions to the steersman, and the terms "right" and "left," referring to movement of the ship's head, shall thereafter be used instead.

2. The orders as to rudder angle shall be given in such terms as "Ten degrees rudder; half-rudder; standard rudder; full rudder;" etc., so that a complete order would be "Right--Half-rudder," etc.

3. Commanders in chief and commanding officers acting independently may, in their discretion, institute the above changes at an earlier date.

F. D. ROOSEVELT,

Acting Secretary of the Navy.




General Order No. 98

GENERAL ORDER
No. 98


NAVY DEPARTMENT
Washington, D. C., May 18, 1914

Image of General Order, No. 98


ORDERS GOVERNING THE MOVEMENTS OF THE RUDDER.

1. This order supersedes General Order No. 30, of May 5, 1913, which should be marked "Canceled" across its face.

2. The term "helm" shall not be used in any command or directions connected with the operation of the rudder; in lieu thereof the term "rudder" shall be used--standard rudder, half rudder, etc.

3. The commands "starboard" and "port" shall not be used as governing the movement of the rudder; in lieu thereof the word "right" shall be employed when the wheel (or lever) and rudder are to be moved to the right to turn the ship's head to the right (with headway on), and "left" to turn to turn the ship's head to the left (with headway on). Instructions in regard to the rudder angle shall be given to the steersman in such terms as "handsomely," "ten degrees rudder," "half rudder," "standard rudder," "full rudder," "left—handsomely," etc. The steersman should afterwards be informed of the new course by such terms as "course—135°."

JOSEPHUS DANIELS,

Secretary of the Navy.



Source: Bureau of Navigation. Subject Index to General Orders, Navy Department, Series of 1913 (Complete to June 30, 1916). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1916.