Rudder systems (rudder control surfaces and steering gear) are a safety critical element of ships operating in ice-covered waters. Icebreaking ships equipped with single rudders are particularly vulnerable considering the remote and often isolated locations in which they operate. The IACS Polar Class Rules were developed as a set of harmonized requirements for ships operating in polar waters. First published in 2006 the rules contain requirements for dimensioning the hull structure and propulsion machinery to resist ice loads. There are however no specific requirements for rudders — the rules simply require appendages to be dimensioned using the hull ice load. This paper presents a series of studies aimed at providing guidance on dimensioning rudders and steering gear systems for operation in ice. Using existing ship reference cases and rudder ice loading scenarios found in previous rules and guidelines a simplified set of design approaches are presented. These approaches are evaluated with Finite Element Analysis and compared with selected measured full-scale data and damage incidents. Guidance is provided on system protection mechanisms for the steering gear under these design and over-load cases. In addition, a comparison is made between the results and those derived from using the hull area design pressures in the current IACS rules.