Commonly Used Helm Commands
When a command is given to the helmsman, the first part of the order indicates the direction (right or left) for the helmsman to turn the wheel. The second part of the command states the amount of angle. The following are some commonly used steering commands.
"Right (or left) full rudder." Full rudder designates a 30° rudder. When the rudder is turned past 30° (usually designated hard right or left), care must be exercised to avoid jamming it against the stops.
"Right (or left) 5°, 10°, 15°, and so on." This indicates the angle, in degrees, that the rudder is to be offset.
"Right (or left) easy." Usually indicates 2 or 3 degrees of rudder angle in the direction indicated. Some Masters may prefer 5 degrees of rudder angle for this command. This should be understood in the vessels SOP.
"Give her more rudder." To increase the rudder angle already on when it is desired to turn the ship more rapidly in the direction in which she is already turning.
"Ease the rudder." To decrease the rudder angle. The order may also be: "Ease to (state number) degrees."
"Rudder amidships." To place the rudder on the centerline.
"Meet her." To check, but not stop, the swing by putting the rudder in the opposite direction. Usually this order is used when it is desired to keep the ship from swinging past her new course.
"Steady" or "steady as you go." To steer the present course while the ship is swinging. The course should be noted at the time the order is given and the ship steadied on that course.
"Shift the rudder." To change from right to left (or left to right) rudder. Usually given when a ship loses her headway and begins to gather sternway and it is desired to keep her turning in the same direction.
"Mind your rudder." To steer more carefully or stand by for an order.
"Keep her so." To steer the course just reported, following a request for that course.
To assure the watch officer that his orders have been correctly received, the helmsman must always repeat, word for word, any command received. As soon as the command has been executed, the helmsman must also report it to the watch officer. The watch officer confirms that the order is understood by replying, "Very well."