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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 Movements of the Rudder: General Order No. 98, 18 May 1914

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. 98 (1914) Movement of the Rudder
Image of General Order No. 98 (1914) Movement of the Rudder

No. 98

Washington, D. C., May 18, 1914


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°."

Secretary of the Navy.

Published: Thu Dec 18 14:50:23 EST 2014