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

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Orders Governing the Movement of the Rudder: General Order No. 30, 5 May 1913

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.

Image of General Order No. 30 (1913) Orders Governing the Movements of the Rudder
Image of General Order No. 30 (1913) Orders Governing the Movements of the Rudder

No. 30

Washington, D. C., May 5, 1913


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.

Acting Secretary of the Navy.

Published: Thu Dec 18 14:48:06 EST 2014