APOLLO RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Apollo 16 - 27 April 1972

Recovery Force Shipsii
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS Alacrity SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-520 Y
USS Opportune SRS - Salvage Ship ARS-41 Y
USS Exploit SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-440 Y
Pacific
USS Ticonderogai PRS - Carrier CVS-14 Y
USS Goldsborough SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-20 Y
USS Ponchatoulaiii,1 SRS - Oiler AO-148 Y (only one known))
Tracking Ships
USNS Vanguard TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-19 Y
Recovery Control Center
Norfolk VA Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Not Involved
USNS Redstone TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-20 Y
USS Constellation Carrier CVA-64 Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarity
USS Ticonderoga Hand Cancel Common
USS Ticonderoga4b Machine Canceli (Crew covers only) Also this one7. Rare (Only 3 known)
USS Vanguard Cape Canaveral - 16 April 1972 - Apollo Cachet Common
USS Vanguard Cape Canaveral - 22 April 1972 - USNS Vanguard-Apollo Cachet Common


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

Designed by Morris Beck it shows a square general Recovery Force cachet with the number 16 in each of the four corners

Blue Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows a square general Recovery Force cachet with the number 16 in each of the four corners

 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Larger version of the Navy cachet Light/Dark Green & Black Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Larger version of the Navy cachet Light/Dark Blue & Black Printed
Artopages Recovery Ship General Artopages Recovery Ship cachet Orange & Blue Printed
Artopages Apollo 164a Colourful cachet shows recovery ship, rocket, capsule under parachutes etc Multicolour Printed

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Ticonderoga Maroon B880, B881
USS Goldsborough U/K None
Norfolk VA Black B880, B881, B882, B883
Honolulu HI U/K B880

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Ticonderoga Cachet shows the an Apollo capsule decending on parachutes Red/Blue Printed
USS Ticonderoga5 Unusual 'Depart for Recovery Area' cover - postmarked 8 April 1972 Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga5 Unusual 'Return to Port' cover - postmarked 29 April 1972 Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga6 Interesting double postmark - USS Ticonderoga on top of a US Postal Service postmark Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga Interesting Multicolour Printed Cachet Multicolour Printed
USS Ticonderoga1 Has a Commander in Chief Pacific corner card Black/Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga7 Another Commander in Chief Pacific corner card cover with an enclosed card Black/Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Alacrity6 Red Corner Card On a BECK B881 Cover!! Light/Dark Blue Printed
USS Goldsborough Ship's Cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Opportune Cape Canaveral postmark with earlier date - Extra cachet shows the Lunar Rover Multicolour/Black Printed
USS Opportune6 Kennedy Space Center postmark - Mission Emblem cachet Blue Rubber Stamp
USS Opportune6 Kennedy Space Center postmark - Larger Mission Emblem cachet plus an embossed seal Black Rubber Stamp
USNS Vanguard6 Goddard SFC Apollo Tracking Team Vanguard Tracking Ship Cachet - postmark CC 16 April 1972 hand cancel Black Rubber Stamp
Western Samoa Special Recovery Postmark Red Hand Cancel
Western Samoa Special Recovery Postmark - This cover shows a slight variation on the previous Western Samoa cover Red Hand Cancel
Western Samoa Colorano Silk Cover Red Hand Cancel
Kunia HI Inner & Outer Space Cachet - April 16 Red & Blue Printed
Kunia HI2 Navy cachet - April 16 Maroon Rubber stamp
Norfolk VA Navy Cachet - April 27 Black Rubber Stamp
Norfolk VA Inner & Outer Space Cachet - April 16 Orange & Blue Printed
Norfolk VA Navy Cachet - Naval Arctic Research Lab corner card Black Rubber Stamp
Norfolk VA4a Unusual Apollo 16 Recovery Force Cachet + Navy Cachet Red & Blue, Black Printed / Rubber Stamp
USS Constellation USS Ticonderoga postcard with a USS Constellation postmark Multicolour Printed
USS Ticonderoga Greyscale mission emblem plus Navy cachet on a long envelope Greyscale + Maroon Printed /
Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga Multicolour mission emblem Multicolour Printed
USS Ticonderoga Navy cachet on USS Ticonderoga postcard Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ticonderoga Nice Multicolour cachet Multicolour Printed
USS Ticorderoga Interesting Drawing on Back B/W Drawn

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Ticonderoga4 Helicopter Recovery Cover signed by the pilot Commander Arnie Fieser who was the prime recovery pilot of the SH-3G helicopter which made the pickup (sold on eBay) 27 April 19723
USS Ticonderoga PRS Recovery Cover signed by the helicopter recovery pilot, CDR Arnie Fieser of Recovery 1 27 April 1972
USS Ticonderoga Cover signed by the leader of the UDT-12 Recovery Team 27 April 1972
USS Ticonderoga Wonderful 1 year anniversary cover signed by 12 frogmen! 27 April 1973
USS Ticonderoga7 Great Recovery Helicoper cover with a 27 April machine cancel! The only one known. 27 April 1973

 

General Notes:
i) From Apollo 16 onwards, all Hand cancellations for the PRS on the date of recovery were postmarked in Hawaii and not aboard the PRS. However, mail from the crew or recovery teams could and was cancelled on board, on the recovery date.
ii) See a News Release from the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force to collectors regarding arrangements for covers to be cacheted for this mission.
iii) A cover with an early postmark is also known

Other Notes:
1) From Steve Durst's CD Book (From Tom Steiner's collection)
2) From the collection of Tom Steiner
3) It appears that this cover was on board the PRS during recovery but was taken ashore for postmarking
4) Sold on eBay 2009 a) 2011 b) 2013
5) From the collection of Robert Mcleod
6) From the collection of Luc Jallot
7) From the collection of Antoni Rigo

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 23 August 2018

 

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