A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David C
Date: 2019 Jun 11, 15:03 -0700
It was an era of big changes for mariners - British at least. On 1 January 1933 new helm orders came into use on British ships.
"THROUGH the work of the International Safety at Sea and Load Line Convention, and the passing of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1932, and in accordance with the subsequent instructions of the Board of Trade, on January 1 the ‘direct’ system of helm orders came into use on all British vessels. For centuries the order to “starboard the helm “or” Port the helm” has caused the ship's head to go in the opposite direction, the practice having come down through the centuries when tillers were in use. Under the new regulations the order “Starboard” will be given, when it is intended that the wheel, the rudder blade and the head of the ship should go to starboard, and the order “port” will be given when it is intended that the wheel, the rudder blade and the ship's head should go to port. Though it is expected that little difficulty will be experienced in changing over from the ‘indirect’ system to the ‘direct’ system, for a time the orders will be given in the words “wheel to Starboard” and “Wheel to Port” thus enabling the helmsman to adapt himself gradually to the new system. Like most innovations of the kind, the change in established practice has not been introduced without considerable criticism and opposition, but it is probable that in a very short time it will be regarded as an eminently sensible and desirable alteration."