APOLLO RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Apollo 15 - 7 August 1971

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS Austin SRS - Amphibious Transport Dock LPD-4 Y
USS Salinan SRS - Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-161 Y
Pacific
USS Okinawa PRS - Carrier LPH-3 Y
USS Kawishiwi SRS - Oiler AO-146 Y
Tracking Ships
USNS Vanguard TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-19 Y
Recovery Control Centers
Norfolk Naval Air Station Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Not Involved
USS Paiute Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-159 Y
USS Observation Island 4 Missile Range Instrumentation Ship AG-154 (T-AGM-23) Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Okinawa Hand Cancel - Bottom of Pmk Common
USS Okinawa Hand Cancel - Top of Pmk Common
USS Okinawa Two  different Top of Pmk Hand Cancels Only two known
USS Austin Hand Cancel - 'USS Austin' Bottom of Pmk -
'P M' No Periods Variety
Commom
USS Austin Hand Cancel - 'USS Austin' Bottom of Pmk -
'P.M.' Variety
Less Common
USS Austin Hand Cancel - 'USS Austin' Top of Pmk Common
USS Paiute August 17 1971 Jacksonville Pmk -
USNS Vanguard 12 August postmark and cover not marked 7 Aug -


Cachetsi
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows the TF-130 Emblem

 Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
Altantic

Designed by Morris Beck it shows the TF-140 Emblem

Maroon Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachets - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachets Green/Blue/Brown Printed
Beck Cachets - Pacific Similar to Navy Cachets Red/Black/Green Printed

 
Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Austin Black, Blueii B875
USS Okinawa Maroon B873
USS Kawishiwi Maroon B874
Norfolk VA Black B876

 
Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Okinawa Unusual Cachet shows the Carrier plus Apollo Capsule under parachutes - included an insert Green/Red Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa EKAS PRS Cachet shows the Apollo capsule returning from the Moon with associated text including name of PRS & Astronauts Green  Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa Unknown cachet shows Apollo 15 Rocket and the Moon - Also seen on USS Austin cover Black Printed
USS Okinawa EKAS PRS Cachet shows the Apollo capsule returning from the Moon with associated text including name of PRS & Astronauts
Late Postmark - Feb 5 1972
Green  Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa USS Okinawa postmark on a multicolour map cover with Navy cachet Maroon  Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa Interesting postage due 3c Maroon  Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa An unusual hand drawn cachet shows the Okinawa communicating with the mainland & the capsule under parachutes B&W Printed
USS Okinawa Navy cachet on an Apollo 11 Postcard Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa Greyscale photo of the USS Okinawa Greyscale Printed
USS Okinawa Cachet shows capsule under parachutes Red & Blue Printed
USS Okinawa USS Okinawa Postcard with Navy cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa2 Interesting PRS cover with Commander in Chief Pacific corner card Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa5 Interesting PRS cover with Commander in Chief Pacific corner card Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa2a Altgelt (Sokolsky design) cachet. A red version and an aqua version also exists. Blue Rubber Stamp
USS Okinawa1 A probably unique USS Okinawa postmark on an Insurance like cover Various Printed
USS Okinawa2c Mission Emblem Cachet Multicolour Printed
USS Okinawa6 Commander In Chief corner card - Navy cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi EKAS PRS Cachet as per USS Okinawa Green Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi USS Kawishiwi cover with Commanding Officer's corner card. Came with interesting note. Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi Interesting TF130 Return Address Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi Interesting USA Navy Department cachet Black Printed
USS Kawishiwi Switz Postcard with Navy cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi4 Unusual 'Return to Port' cover - Text cachet Red Rubber Stamp
USS Kawishiwi4 USS Kawishiwi postmark on a USS Okinawa PRS postcard - first SRS cancel on a PRS postcard seen Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Austin Ship's Cachet Blue Rubber Stamp
USS Austin Unusual Apollo 15 Atlantic / Pacific Task Force Cachet Dark Blue-Red Printed
USS Austin US Navy Crest Black Printed
USS Austin2c Cachet shows capsule under parachutes Red/Blue Printed
Western Samoa Special Recovery Postmark Black Hand Cancel
Western Samoa3 Special Recovery Postmark - Unusual red version of postmark Red Hand Cancel
Cook Islands Special Safe Return Postmark Black Postmark
USNS Vanguard / USS Austin Interesting combined cover with USNS Vanguard cachet and USS Austin postmark Black Hand Cancel
USNS Vanguard / USS Austin Similar to above but with extra Military Sealift Command cachet Black Hand Cancel
USNS Point Barrow An unusual and interesting cover from the USNS Point Barrow. This ship was used for transporting Saturn V rocket stages from California to KSC. Date appears to be June 20 1970 which is a few days after the S-IVB stage for Apollo 15 was delivered to KSC. Maroon Rubber Stam
Norfolk VA Inner & Outer Space Cachet Gold & Black Printed
Norfolk VA Unusual Blue Navy cachet Blue Rubber Stamp
Norfolk Naval Air Sta. 8c Postage Due - Black Navy Cachet Black Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - most of these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Okinawa PRS Recovery Cover signed by the pilot, Steve Coakley 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Helicopter Recovery Cover on an airmail envelope signed by the pilot, Steve Coakley 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa2d Helicopter Recovery cover signed by the Recovery Helicopter pilot Cdr. S.A. Coakley 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa2b Helicopter Recovery cover signed by the Recovery Helicopter pilot Cdr. S.A. Coakley with note 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa2a Cover signed by Frogman from the Recovery Team 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa2a Nice Beck Printed Cover signed by the CO and XO 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa2a Cover signed by Members of the Primary Recovery Helicopter 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Nice Ekas cover signed by both the Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew F. Huff and the Recovery Helicopter pilot Cdr. S.A. Coakley 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Nice Beck printed cover signed by the Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew F. Huff - Pmk Okinawa on bottom 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Nice Beck printed cover signed by the Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew F. Huff - Pmk Okinawa on top 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Great cover signed by Jim Irwin, RADM Hayward Commander of TF-130, the EO of the USS Okinawa and the Recovery Helicopter pilot. Also the cover is addressed to another Astronaut, Chapman! 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Another great cover signed by the 3 astronauts plus other recovery personnel 7 August 1971
USS Okinawa Another helicopter Recovery cover signed by the pilot, Steve Coakley 7 August 1971

General Notes:
i) As from Apollo 15 the Navy decided to reduce the number of covers serviced to "2 per individual". Extra covers were surposed to be returned unpostmarked. See also a News Release from the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force to collectors regarding arrangements for covers to be cacheted for Apollo 16.
ii ) The blue coloured cachet is rare

Other Notes:
1) Offered for sale by Astronaut Central (spin off of Novaspace) in 2010
2) Sold on eBay late 2009  a) 2010  b) 2011 c) 2013 d) 2014
3) From the collection of Luc Jallot
4) From the collection of Tom Steiner
5) From the collection of Steve Durst
6) From the collection of Timothy Preston

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 15 October 2018

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