The big steering wheel used on a pirate ship was called the helm. A traditional ship's helm was composed of eight cylindrical wooden spokes joined by a central, round hub, which was attached to the axel. It was often lined with a brass plate. The early wheels were hard to turn and often required two helmsmen to steer the ship.
This type of wheel was used on all ships of the period, not just the ones operated by pirates. There was no such thing as an actual pirate ship.That expression was used for any sea vessel whose crew engaged in piracy. Anything from a small boat to a huge frigate could be considered a pirate vessel. Pirates usually stole their ships.
When the first steering helm was invented, it was recognized as a major milestone in the evolution of sea travel and ship construction and revolutionized nautical navigation. The helm replaced the exceedingly inefficient whip staff, which was the previous method of steering. The first ship helm is believed to have been implemented at the beginning of the 18th century, approximately in 1703. Credit for the invention of the helm is attributed to the British navy, but there is no proper documentation to confirm or refute that.