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Auxiliary Steering Station Aboard Cruiser Olympia

By Patrick McSherry
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Proceeding forward on OLYMPIA, on the starboard side, passing again under the signal bridge, the visitor will see a set of three large, interconnected ship’s wheels. These wheels, on the ships centerline, and arranged one behind the next, were each to be manned by two crewmen.  This station would come into use if the steering stations in the pilot house and in the conning tower were destroyed or otherwise put out of action.

Auxiliary steeing station, Cruiser Olympia

Auxiliary steering station under the signal bridge.

From outside of the wheelhandles, the diameter of each wheel is six feet (6’). This station would be used to steer the vessel if the hydraulically-assisted steering control in the pilot house and conning tower was no longer operational. Even with six men on this interconnected wheel system, turning the ship's rudder took quite a bit of energy. In a storm, if this station was used, the men on the wheel would have a tendency to be lifted off the deck and smashed into the deck as the waves buffetted the rudder.

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