The Grav Dampener is a device of the Trace Compression Block engine which is necessary for the pitch and yaw of a spaceship. It is likely powered by the Aft alternator, another engine component.

During a heist, planned by Saffron, to steal Serenity it was sabotaged, by Saffron. She destroyed the filament in Serenity's Grav Dampener, as a result the ship was unable to change direction.

Given the name of the device, however, it is more likely that this component reduces the effect of gravity and intertia on the ship and crew. If this is so, the ship could still turn, but doing so would likely damage the vessel and potentially harm, or kill, the crew. Wash's inability to steer after Saffron sabotaged the device was likely due to a failsafe which disabled navigational control in the event that this device is damaged.

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