What are Steering gear testing and drills requirements as per SOLAS ?

Within 12 hours before departure, the ship’s steering gear shall be checked and tested by the ship’s crew. The test procedure shall include, where applicable, the operation of the following:

  1. The main steering gear;
  2. The auxiliary steering gear;
  3. The remote steering gear control systems;
  4. The steering positions located on the navigation bridge;
  5. The emergency power supply;
  6. The rudder angle indicators in relation to the actual position of the rudder;
  7. The remote steering gear control system power failure alarms;
  8. The steering gear power unit failure alarms; and
  9. Automatic isolating arrangements and other automatic equipment.

The checks and tests shall include:

  1. The full movement of the rudder according to the required capabilities of the steering gear;
  2. A visual inspection for the steering gear and its connecting linkage; and
  3. The operation of the means of communication between the navigation bridge and steering gear compartment.
  • Simple operating instructions with a block diagram showing the change-over procedures for remote steering gear control systems and steering gear power units shall be permanently displayed on the navigation bridge and in the steering compartment.
  • All ships’ officers concerned with the operation and/or maintenance of steering gear shall be familiar with the operation of the steering systems fitted on the ship and with the procedures for changing from one system to another.
  • In addition to the routine checks and tests prescribed in paragraphs , emergency steering drills shall take place at least once every three months in order to practise emergency steering procedures. These drills shall include direct control within the steering gear compartment, the communications procedure with the navigation bridge and, where applicable, the operation of alternative power supplies.
  • The administration may waive the requirements to carry out the checks and tests prescribed in paragraphs for ships which regularly engage on voyages of short duration. Such ships shall carry out these checks and tests at least once every week.

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