A helmsman or helm is a person who steers a space ship or other type of maritime vessel. On small vessels, particularly privately owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. 

On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch, who is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and gives orders to the helmsman.(On Union Fleet Ships, the Officer of the Watch is the person who holds the Conn .) 

In the merchant marine, the person at the helm is usually an able Star man who holds the Civilian Star Man or Ship guide Patent .

Particularly during ship arrivals, departures, and while maneuvering in restricted space or other conditions requiring precise steering. An ordinary space man (or any civilian) is commonly restricted to steering inside Union Star Systems and vessels with Union Registry and capable of FTL

A professional helmsman maintains a steady course, properly executes all rudder orders, and communicates to the officer on the bridge utilizing navigational terms relating to ship's heading and steering. A helmsman relies upon visual references. The course data of the Navigator , the SPATI Sensors (Space Time Sensors)and the position of known Pulsars in relationship of the ship position.

Helms Men utilize the Intuition Controls (a ball like device that translates yaw and pitch of the ship (In relation to the galactic plane)into tactile information. A visual yaw and pitch indicator also exist)

The mate or other officer on the bridge directs the helmsman aboard merchant or navy ships.

Clear and exact communication between the helmsman and officer on the bridge is essential to safe navigation and ship handling. Subsequently, a set of standard steering commands, responses by the helmsman, and acknowledgment by the conning officer are widely recognized in the maritime industry. The helmsman repeats any verbal commands in order to demonstrate that the command is heard and understood. The Interspace Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) requires that a helmsman be able to understand and respond to helm orders in Union Standard Language.

Only the Union Navy also utilizing the somewhat controversial "Virtu Helm " system.

The following are helm orders used in the United Stars Navy:

  • Rudder
  • Midships (Bring rudder and pitch angle to 0 degrees)
  • Hard rudder (Used infrequently, such as emergencies, when maximum rudder is required)
  • Hard Yaw
  • Hard Pitch
  • Right or left standard rudder (~20 degrees. Varies per ship)
  • Yaw or Pitch standard (~20 degrees)
  • Shift your rudder (Steer the same number of degrees but opposite rudder angle)
  • Heading
  • Steady as she goes (Steer as needed to continue current heading)
  • Steady on a course (Steer as needed to bring ship on desired course)


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.