Always on the right course with Anschütz NautoSteer AS

The steering gear control system of a ship is one of the most important and critical systems on board. However, practice shows that even in this system, unpredictable events, technical failures and human errors can never be completely ruled out. For this reason, it is very important to consider both the safety-focused concept of the steering gear control system as well as the human factor to ensure that the vessel is steered safely even in emergencies.

As a random example, the following text is taken from an investigation report of the German Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation [the vessel name has been removed].

(…) The ship was steered using autopilot and proceeding at about 7 kts. A strong easterly wind constantly pushed the vessel to starboard. At 10:15, the pilot noticed that he could no longer steer the ship using autopilot and asked the third officer to take over the manual steering. The third officer then switched over from autopilot to follow-up steering but found that he could not steer the ship using that, either. The steering was evidently still operating on autopilot (…).

Considering the investigation report above – strong wind pushing the vessel to starboard, the autopilot failing, the third officer using the steering mode selector switch to switch from a defective steering control (autopilot) to another defective steering control (follow-up steering) – valuable seconds were wasted with the result that the vessel ran aground.

How can NautoSteer AS increase safety in navigation?

Anschütz’s NautoSteer AS steering gear control system combines a technical safety-based concept with a very clear, user-based concept of operation that supports the bridge crew in making fast and safe decisions.

A key feature supporting increased safety is a very simple and safe-to-use steering mode selector switch with only two steering mode positions: “Main” and “NFU direct”.

Both modes are completely separated and independent from each other. In any critical situation, a clear instruction is: Switch to the other mode (normally NFU direct) and you can be sure that an independent steering gear control system is activated. The situation described in the investigation report – switching from a defective autopilot to a defective follow-up steering – is not possible with this instruction, because “Main” and “NFU direct” modes do not use any common electronics.


“NFU direct” is the simplest mode. Normally, only a voltage is switched and the valves of the steering gear are operated directly.

“Main” is a more comfortable mode. It integrates the autopilot, the handwheel (follow-up steering), but also NFU tillers. Third-party steering controls can be integrated. Autopilot override, general override, speed-dependent rudder limitation and the synchronous/independent operation of rudders are possible. In “Main” mode, NautoSteer AS also enables comfortable takeover of control at the touch of a button from any steering position.

The backbone of the “Main” mode is a redundant CAN bus, meaning that the system switches seamlessly to the second CAN bus if one is failing. Wire breaks are monitored automatically. In addition, if a wire breaks the rudder will be immediately stopped at the current position and not move to the maximum rudder angle as many older systems do. NautoSteer AS also features a permanent steering failure monitoring that surveils the proper function of the steering gear control system and the steering gear itself by observing if the rudder follows the rudder order.

These safety-related features monitor the proper functioning of the system and prevent any unintended rudder movements. Moreover, they are included in the standard scope of supply of NautoSteer AS without any additional costs.

Take advantage now: Learn more about NautoSteer AS and experience safer steering

NautoSteer AS can be adapted to and integrated into the most varied ship system environments. Hundreds of ships are cruising on the world’s oceans with the Anschütz steering gear control system, from cruise ships and yachts to ro-ro and cargo ships, to specialised vessels such as research ships, icebreakers and naval vessels. NautoSteer AS is further optimised for simplified installation by providing easier wiring of standard power and bus connections, less cabling as well as quicker PC-based commissioning and system set-up – a perfect solution for new and retrofit installations.

For further information you may contact the Official Distributor and Support Center for Greece:

Aegean Electronics SA

4 Zosimadon Str, Piraeus 185 31, Greece

Tel: +30 210 4123000