Just wondering....

Just wondering....

Joined: August 24th, 2003, 10:08 pm

December 12th, 2008, 2:00 pm #1

Last night as I worked here at home doing some Christmas chores, I began wondering again about my father's LST and the steering problems it had. Consistent, unavoidable... and they never really did figure out the cause. I know many other LSTs had the same problems.. others never had steering problems. I'll most likely never know the cause BUT....

Can someone explain to me exactly what took place during a steering failure and how the system worked to man aft steering and use it?

I think I remember that someone speculated that there could have been a 'bubble' in the fluid that would cause the steering to fail... were there other reasons?

Once steering was lost, did the Helm report such to the Captain and he ordered aft steering manned?

How exactly did the switch from one to the other steering occur? How fast did you have to make it all happen? (On my father's LST, during invasions, Captain Tenney even began to station a couple of men down there... knowing the ship was prone to that problem and knowing that they hadn't found the cause yet!)

I've seen the aft steering area, those big 'wheels' that have to be turned a lot to make even a slight adjustment in course (from what I've been told). How many men did they station in aft steering when it had to be used? Were they normally from the black gang or deck force or both?

When turning those wheels, did the cable move the rudder and that's how the course is altered? (the direction of the rudder movement I'm guessing depends on which way the wheels are cranked)

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me... just trying to understand!
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Joined: October 10th, 2005, 8:42 pm

December 12th, 2008, 3:22 pm #2

I was on LST 1180 of the Newport Class. On these ships aft steering was manned anytime we were underway.
We had twin rudders also; each turned by a large hydraulic motor. Large pumps drove these motors. The person on watch could switch from bridge control to local control and steer the ship with a small wheel we called a trick wheel that in turn controled the hydrolic system. The bridge would give steering commands to him via sound powered phones.
Hydraulic systems rely on oil under pressure to do the work. Some bubbles in the system may reduce efficiency under load. You can usually tell if you are getting air in the system when the noise level goes up. Too much air and the system will fail. The system uses a lot of valves, switches and controls to make it work. These items are generally the cause of failures. An old salt told me one time there are two things on the face of this earth you can never stop from leaking, steam and hydraulic fluids.
Each rudder had a main hydraulic pump and a backup pump that could be switched in if the main pump failed.
On LST 325 you are correct about the large wheel and cables. In the event of a hydraulic system failure this wheel and cables can be used to manually turn the rudder.
It is a slow process, however, and quick turns can not be made.
On the LST 1180 I was on we had a pair of chain falls as a backup. In the event of a hydraulic failure these were attached to the bulkhead and the other end to the large armature fastened to the rudder. To turn the rudder, one sailor would tighten the falls while the other would slack his. It took some practice to get good at this. Like the LST 325 system, turning was slow.
As a final backup, you notice the LST 325 has twin propellers. These propellers are attached to two independent drive shafts. By controlling the speed and direction of these propellers the ship can still be maneuvered. If you noticed when the LST gets underway in Evansville and turns around, one propeller is pushing forward and the other is going in reverse. This turns the ship in a much smaller radius than the rudders alone could.
On a final note, if a ship has steering problems the captain immediately orders the signalman to hoist up warning pennants or display signal lights to let other ships know she is in trouble. The ship in distress is given a wide berth and other ships maintain a safe distance. Skivywaver can give you more details on that process.
The final backup, which is also used in the event of motor failure, are the ships oars. If you notice along the deck on both sides of the ship there are round fixtures. These are normally used to pass mooring lines and cables through when the ship is docked. While underway if we loose power, we retrieve the long oars from their storage brackets in the tank deck and pass them through these oarlocks. With these the ship can be rowed safely out of harms way.


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Joined: January 17th, 2006, 3:42 am

December 12th, 2008, 4:08 pm #3

We usually keep a few bags of M&M's near the oars as they are very good at manning them as seen in one of their commercials.

LH
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Joined: September 20th, 2004, 11:26 pm

December 12th, 2008, 5:47 pm #4

I was on LST 1180 of the Newport Class. On these ships aft steering was manned anytime we were underway.
We had twin rudders also; each turned by a large hydraulic motor. Large pumps drove these motors. The person on watch could switch from bridge control to local control and steer the ship with a small wheel we called a trick wheel that in turn controled the hydrolic system. The bridge would give steering commands to him via sound powered phones.
Hydraulic systems rely on oil under pressure to do the work. Some bubbles in the system may reduce efficiency under load. You can usually tell if you are getting air in the system when the noise level goes up. Too much air and the system will fail. The system uses a lot of valves, switches and controls to make it work. These items are generally the cause of failures. An old salt told me one time there are two things on the face of this earth you can never stop from leaking, steam and hydraulic fluids.
Each rudder had a main hydraulic pump and a backup pump that could be switched in if the main pump failed.
On LST 325 you are correct about the large wheel and cables. In the event of a hydraulic system failure this wheel and cables can be used to manually turn the rudder.
It is a slow process, however, and quick turns can not be made.
On the LST 1180 I was on we had a pair of chain falls as a backup. In the event of a hydraulic failure these were attached to the bulkhead and the other end to the large armature fastened to the rudder. To turn the rudder, one sailor would tighten the falls while the other would slack his. It took some practice to get good at this. Like the LST 325 system, turning was slow.
As a final backup, you notice the LST 325 has twin propellers. These propellers are attached to two independent drive shafts. By controlling the speed and direction of these propellers the ship can still be maneuvered. If you noticed when the LST gets underway in Evansville and turns around, one propeller is pushing forward and the other is going in reverse. This turns the ship in a much smaller radius than the rudders alone could.
On a final note, if a ship has steering problems the captain immediately orders the signalman to hoist up warning pennants or display signal lights to let other ships know she is in trouble. The ship in distress is given a wide berth and other ships maintain a safe distance. Skivywaver can give you more details on that process.
The final backup, which is also used in the event of motor failure, are the ships oars. If you notice along the deck on both sides of the ship there are round fixtures. These are normally used to pass mooring lines and cables through when the ship is docked. While underway if we loose power, we retrieve the long oars from their storage brackets in the tank deck and pass them through these oarlocks. With these the ship can be rowed safely out of harms way.

Just to add to Bob's excellent response, I might add some information regarding our current steering setup.

Although 325 has a hydraulic system for conveying the steering commands to the steering gear, it is simply an interfacing arrangement that eventually turns on electric switches in the steering compartment which activate the DC electric winch motors that run the cables to the rudders.

During the voyage from Crete when the crew found the steering to be hard to manage, the electrician(s) substituted a rotary switch for the helm (on the bridge)
and ran an electric cable down to After Steering to directly control the winch motors, thereby eliminating the hydraulics with it's possible leaks or air bubbles.

This is the system in use ever since, and has been augmented (for the Pilot's sake) with a Joystick (switch) located in the Conn.

One wonders why the hydraulic system was used in the first place? Was it more "battle hardened" than the armored electric cable? Was it a carry-over from older systems and used just because it had a satisfactory track record?
(BuShips was prone to do a lot of this in all areas of shipbuilding during the first years of WW2 for time saving, since the previous manufacturing arrangements had already been in place; as opposed to trying new technologies that would have taken longer to implement)

One of many interesting bits of Trivia for us to mull over in our spare time.
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Joined: March 16th, 2006, 2:08 am

December 12th, 2008, 10:39 pm #5

We usually keep a few bags of M&M's near the oars as they are very good at manning them as seen in one of their commercials.

LH
Larry, you are what you thought you said I was and all the M&Ms are gone...
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Joined: January 17th, 2006, 3:42 am

December 13th, 2008, 2:05 am #6

Don, I hate that when that happens. Just responding to Bob's "oar" steering and the M&M's came into my mind and I thought that was funny." Don't rock the boat baby".
LH
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Joined: March 16th, 2006, 2:08 am

December 13th, 2008, 2:53 am #7

ER a it's a ship......
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Joined: January 17th, 2006, 3:42 am

December 13th, 2008, 1:27 pm #8

Don, I didn't write the song, I just quoted from it.

LH
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Joined: December 19th, 2004, 5:07 pm

December 13th, 2008, 9:51 pm #9

Just to add to Bob's excellent response, I might add some information regarding our current steering setup.

Although 325 has a hydraulic system for conveying the steering commands to the steering gear, it is simply an interfacing arrangement that eventually turns on electric switches in the steering compartment which activate the DC electric winch motors that run the cables to the rudders.

During the voyage from Crete when the crew found the steering to be hard to manage, the electrician(s) substituted a rotary switch for the helm (on the bridge)
and ran an electric cable down to After Steering to directly control the winch motors, thereby eliminating the hydraulics with it's possible leaks or air bubbles.

This is the system in use ever since, and has been augmented (for the Pilot's sake) with a Joystick (switch) located in the Conn.

One wonders why the hydraulic system was used in the first place? Was it more "battle hardened" than the armored electric cable? Was it a carry-over from older systems and used just because it had a satisfactory track record?
(BuShips was prone to do a lot of this in all areas of shipbuilding during the first years of WW2 for time saving, since the previous manufacturing arrangements had already been in place; as opposed to trying new technologies that would have taken longer to implement)

One of many interesting bits of Trivia for us to mull over in our spare time.
Perry we did quite bit of that after seering way home from Greece Skipper , Boats and John Calvin were in the middle of it all <.When our electricans connected that joy stick it was great for the Helsmen but every once in while some thing went wrong and George White was heading for after steering ttap the control with screw driver .<br> Dom. Perruso
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Joined: December 9th, 2004, 6:55 am

December 14th, 2008, 8:34 am #10

Don, I didn't write the song, I just quoted from it.

LH
what you were saying, Larry.
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