carriage requirements for Heading Control and/or Track Control
systems are laid down in Regulation
19, para. 2.8.2.
Regulation 24 sets
out requirements for their use.
Regulation 25 sets
out requirements for power sources for steering gear.
Regulation 26 sets
out requirements for testing steering gear.
The Regulations and these Guidelines supersede MGN 54.
NOTE: Under SOLAS V/74 there was no carriage requirement for this
term Heading Control System differentiates the automatic
pilot from systems designed to keep a ship on a pre-determined
track throughout its passage, which are termed Track Control
Systems. Track Control systems have to be interfaced with
an electronic position fixing system. Regulation
19, 2.8.2 requires Heading Control or Track Control systems
to be fitted to all vessels of 10000 GT and upward. There is no
requirement to fit a Track Control system to any class of ship.
Track Control systems include the functional capabilities of Heading
contributory cause of many casualties has been the improper use
of, or over reliance upon heading control systems. Collisions
have occurred where one and sometimes both vessels have been on
automatic steering with no proper lookout being kept. Strandings
and other casualties have occurred when heading control systems
have been used in restricted waters with no one immediately available
to take the wheel. Casualties have also resulted from watchkeepers
not being familiar with the procedures and precautions necessary
when changing over from heading control system to manual steering.
It is particularly important for watchkeepers to understand the
difference between using heading control systems in Follow-up
(FU) and Non-follow-up (NFU) modes. i.e in FU mode (using for
example a steering wheel) the rudder will alter to the rudder
angle the wheel is set to, but in NFU mode (using for example
a joystick) the rudder will continue to turn as the joystick is
moved to port or starboard.
operators do not use all the control options which may be incorporated
by the equipment manufacturers into the control console, positive
measures should be taken to prevent redundant control settings
being used inadvertently, and the labeling arrangements should
be amended accordingly.
24 covers the use of Heading and Track Control systems. Masters,
skippers and wachkeeping officers should comply with these requirements
as well as the general need to ensure that arrangements are adequate
for maintaining a safe navigational watch.
Masters, skippers and all watchkeeping personnel must be familiar
with the procedure for changing over from automatic to manual
steering as required by Regulation 24, and must ensure that sufficient
time is allowed for the operation. It should be noted that Heading
and/or Track control systems should only be used in heavy traffic,
restricted visibility and all other hazardous navigational circumstances
when manual control can be established immediately and when a
qualified helmsperson is ready to take over steering control
(Reg. 24.1 and 24.2).
The changeover from manual to automatic steering and vice-versa
should be made by, or under the supervision of, the officer of
the watch or the master. If change over cannot be achieved within
30 seconds, the ship should be steered manually in such conditions.
Clear instructions must be provided at the control console, and
special attention should be given to the procedure when joining
a ship. The operations manual should be kept on the bridge and
be readily available to masters, skippers and navigation watchkeepers.
Attention is drawn to the possible inability of the equipment
to accurately maintain set headings when at slow speeds and/or
in heavy seas. The performance of heading control systems is dependent
upon correct control settings suited to the prevailing conditions
of the ships speed, displacement and, particularly, the
sea state. Use of the heading control system must be restricted
to conditions within the designed parameters.
steering gear control systems enable alignment to be maintained
between the helm and the steering gear at all times, irrespective
of whether the heading control system is, or has been, in use.
Where the design does not include this provision, suitable measures
should be taken immediately before and after the changeover to
ensure that the helm and steering gear are aligned.
24.4 requires that the manual steering should be tested after
prolonged use of the heading / track control system and before
entering areas which require navigation with special caution.
The MCA recommends that the manual steering be tested at least
once a day and before entering areas where caution is required.
During this test, the wheel (or equivalent) should be engaged
and the ship steered by hand. It is strongly recommended that
a roster system should be employed so that all persons qualified
to steer take a turn. They should steer the vessel for a sufficient
period for them to maintain their proficiency, including manoeuvring
the vessel and gaining experience in the vessels response
to helm orders. It is also strongly recommended that the heading
control system should be tested manually at least once per watch.
This test should include the operation of the manual steering
over-ride alter course control, incorporated into the heading
control system console.
areas requiring navigation with special caution Regulation
25 requires more than one steering gear power unit to be in
operation (if fitted and capable of simultaneous operation.)
and checks - Regulation
26 lays down the requirements for testing the steering gear
within the 12 hours before the ship leaves port. The Administration
may waive this requirement for ships on regular short voyages.
For UK-registered vessels engaged on regular services of less
than 24 hours duration a check and test of the steering gear need
only be made once a week unless part of the steering gear or its
control system has been dismantled or changed since the last test.
26 also requires officers to familiar with the systems and
change-over procedures and for emergency steering drills to be
carried out at least once every 3 months.
Recording tests and checks - Regulation
26.6 requires steering gear checks and tests to be recorded.
The date, time and place that the checks and emergency steering
gear drills are carried out should be recorded by the master in
the official logbook. On ships not required to carry an official
logbook a record of the tests, checks and drills should be retained
on board by the master or skipper and available for inspection