APOLLO RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Apollo 13 - 17 April 1970

Recovery Force Shipsiii
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS New SRS - Destroyer DD-818 Y
USS Paiute Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-159 Y
USS Escape SRS - Salvage Ship ARS-6 Y (Rare)
Pacific
USS Iwo Jima PRS - Carrier LPH-2 Y
USS Benjamin Stoddert SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-22 Y
USS Kawishiwi SRS - Oiler AO-146 Y
Activated Once Emergency was Declaredi
Atlantic
USS Bordelon Radar Picket Destroyer DD-881 N
USS Forest Royal Destroyer DD-872 N
USS William C. Lawe Destroyer DD-763 N
USS America Carrier CVA-66 N
Pacific
USS Granville S Hall SRS - Miscellaneous Auxiliary Service Craft
(experimental minesweeper)
 YAG-40 N
Tracking Ships
USNS Vanguard TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-19 Y
Others (Pacific)ii
HMS Nubian Frigate - British Far East Fleet
Steamed to Secondary Recovery Area
F-131 U/K
HMS Phoebe Frigate - British Far East Fleet
Steamed to Secondary Recovery Area
F-42 U/K
RFA Tarbatness1 Fleet Stores Ship - British Far East Fleet
Steamed to Secondary Recovery Area
A-345 Y (V. Rare)
RFA TideFlow Fast Fleet Tanker - British Far East Fleet
Steamed to Secondary Recovery Area
A-97 U/K
MS Cap Blanco German Freighter - Was in the Area N/A Y ((V. Rare)
MS Cap Vilano German Freighter - Was in the Area N/A Y (V. Rare)
Libanon German Freighter - Was in the Area N/A Y (V. Rare)
Probably Not Involvediv
USS Cobbler / USS Basilone3 Submarine / Destroyer SS-344 / DD-824 Y
USS Exploit Ocean Minesweeper MSO-440 Y
USS William V Pratt3 Destroyer DLG-13 Y
Recovery Control Centers
Norfolk VA Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control Center N/A Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity

USS Iwo Jima

Handcancel - Iwo Jima on Bottom - Date Normal Commom

USS Iwo Jima

Handcancel - Iwo Jima on Bottom - Date skewed in Cancel Commom

USS Iwo Jima

Handcancel - Iwo Jima on Top Common

USS New

Normal Postmark - DD-818 Common

USS New

Postmark Missing DD Possibly Scarce

USS Benjamin Stoddert

Red USS Benjamin Stoddert New York cancel plus Ship's Corner Card Common

Norfolk Naval Air Station VA

Large Postmark Common

Norfolk VA

Smaller Postmark Common


Cachets
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Navy Recovery Force Cachet - Atlantic

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Lunar Lander

Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Lunar Lander

 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachet Red-Grey-Black Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Similar to Navy Cachet Red-Blue-Black Printed
MSRF TF-140 Cachet Shows capsule in sea with parachutes attached Black, Maroon Rubber Stamp
Artopages 1 Apollo 13 Splashdown & Recovery by the USS Iwo Jima cachet - Another example2 Blue & Red Printed
Artopages 2 Recovery Ship cachet - Another example Blue & Orange Printed
Goldcraft4c Shows capsule in Ocean with Recovery Helicopter Redish Brown Printed

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS New Black B840
USS Iwo Jima Maroon B838
USS Benjamin Stoddert Maroon Only 2 known on Crew Covers
USS Kawishiwi Maroonvi B839

Interesting Cachets & Coversv
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
 USS Iwo Jima Apollo 13 Recovery Cachet shows the Iwo Jima Green Rubber Stamp
USS Iwo Jima Both a Navy cachet & a mission emblem on a long envelope Maroon & Multicolour Rubber Stamp & Printed
USS Iwo Jima Artopages Crew Cover with Navy Cachet Red & Blue / Maroon Printed & Rubber Stamp
USS Iwo Jima5 USS Iwo Jima postmark on a Apollo 13 mission emblem cover Various Printed
USS Iwo Jima4a USS Iwo Jima postmark on a CKM Apollo 13 mission emblem cover Various Printed
USS Iwo Jima4a Interesting NASA IYQS Tracking Station cover Red Printed
USS Iwo Jima4b Mission Emblem + Navy Cachets - NASA Photo Pool Aqua + Maroon Printed & Rubber Stamp
USS Iwo Jima4b Mission Emblem Cachet Multicolour Printed
USS Iwo Jima7 Interesting cover on Associated Press stationary with Navy cachet Blue / Maroon Printed Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi Navy cachet plus Interesting extra small 'Kawishiwi AO 146' text cachet Maroon & Purple Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi On COMSAT stationary Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi Polish 'Man in the Moon' cover Red and Blue Printed
USS New Apollo XIII On The Moon Blue & Red Printed
USS Benjamin Stoddert Includes Ship's Corner Card plus extra red cancel Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Benjamin Stoddert6 Beck Crew Cover - the only Beck cover know with a USS Benjamin Stoddert postmark! Red-Blue-Black Printed
Western Samoa Special Recovery Postmark Black Hand Cancel
Western Samoa Aerogram - Special Recovery Postmark Black Hand Cancel
Houston Has a Navy Recovery Fleet cachet plus an Apollo NASA cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - most these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Iwo Jima Signed by the Commanding Officer, Capt. Leland Erwin Kirkemo 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Iwo Jima Postcard Signed by the Commanding Officer, Capt. Leland Erwin Kirkemo 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Cover signed by Pilot and Crew of main Recovery helicopter 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima PRS Recovery Cover signed by the pilot, Charles Smiley 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima3 A Helicopter Recovery Cover signed by the pilot, Charles Smiley 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4 Signed by the four Recovery frogmen 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Crew Cover signed by Supply Officer, E Rinehart CW02 and the Recovery Helicopter pilot, Charles Smiley plus the insert that was placed in all Crew covers from this mission - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Crew Cover signed by the CO / Captain L.E. Kirkemo - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4 Crew Cover signed by the the crew on Prime Recovery Helicopter #66 for Apollo 13. Included are Cdr. C. B. Smiley, Pilot, D. G. McCarthy, Co-Pilot, and Ralph Slider, Crewman - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4 Crew Cover signed by Cdr. C. B. Smiley the pilot of the Prime Recovery Helicopter - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4a Another Crew Cover signed by the pilot and co-pilot of the Prime Recovery Helicopter - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4c Another Crew Cover signed by the pilot and two other members of the Prime Recovery Helicopter - Very Unusual 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4 Navy Cacheted cover signed by the crew of Swim I Helicopter, Cdr. Carl Frank, Pilot, Douglas Hudson, Copilot, and Robert Peterson and Jerry Nielsen Crew Member 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima4 Navy Cacheted cover signed by Charles C. Fillet Team Leader and Ryborn R. Kirby Assistant Team Leader for the Recovery 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Navy Cacheted cover signed by Charles C. Filley Team Leader and Ryborn R. Kirby Assistant Team Leader for the Recovery 17 April 197
USS Iwo Jima Beck cover signed by the Commanding Officer, Capt. Leland Erwin Kirkemo 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Helicopter recovery cover signed by the pilot of the recovery helicopter, C. B. Smiley 17 April 1970
USS Iwo Jima Great cover signed by six members of the UDT 17 April 1970

 

General Notes:
i) The USS Bordelon was in Port Louis, Mauritius and was put on standby when the emergency occurred. The USS America left Puerto Rico earlier than scheduled enroute to Rio de Janeiro in case an Atlantic splashdown was required. The USS Granville was dispatched to the primary recovery area to support the USS Iwo Jima. The position of the USS Forest Royal and the USS William C. Lawe are unknown.
ii) 'Wilhelm - Katalog Apollo', Peter K. Wilhelm, 2003, p73-74
iii) From the NASA Mission Report 'Because of the emergency which resulted in premature termination of the mission, additional support was provided by the Department of Defense and offers of assistance were made by many foreign nations, including England, France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Uruguay, Brazil, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nationalist China, and the Soviet Union. As a result of this voluntary support, a total of 21 ships and 17 aircraft were available for supporting an Indian Ocean landing, and 51 ships and 21 aircraft for an Atlantic Ocean landing. In the Pacific Ocean, there were 13 ships and 17 aircraft known to be available over and above the forces designated for primary recovery support.'
iv) A full list of additional ships called in due to the emergency is not known. Therefore, some of these ships may have been placed on standby for the recovery effort.
v) Newspaper article documenting that only US Stamps should be used on Recovery ship covers and that collectors are limited to two covers.
vi) Rubber stamp cachets from the USS Kawishiwi vary greatly in colour from maroon to a more redish colour.
 

Other Notes:
1) Scan from 'Wilhelm - Katalog Apollo', Peter K. Wilhelm, 2003, p72
2) From the collection of Randy Constantin
3) From the collection of Tom Steiner
4) Sold on eBay in 2010 a) 2011 b) 2013 c) 2014
5) From the collection of Antoni Rigo
6) From the collection of Martin Schwebs Rasmussen
7) From the collection of Joseph Volutza

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 29 July 2018


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