It is known that from Apollo 16 onwards all philatelic mail was postmarked ashore and not on the PRS, using
the PRS's hand cancel. However, there is a question over whether some covers were postmarked aboard the PRS on
For Apollo 16 Ray Cartier1 states 'The post office on board the ship was closed and the machine canceller was left on board for use by the crew and recovery teams'. He also provides an example of such a cover. However, the question is whether the hand canceller was brought back aboard the USS Ticonderoga on recovery day and used to postmark some covers. The evidence that this may have occurred comes from three covers.
1) Captain's covers postmarked on recovery day. I don't believe these are good evidence as they could easily have been taken ashore when the postmarker was taken ashore and postmarked there.
2) A cover from a member of the crew. This is much better evidence. There are two possibilities.
a) The cover was taken ashore and postmarked there.
b) The cover was postmark aboard after the hand cancel was returned from shore.
3) A cover flown on the recovery helicopter. This is probably the most compelling evidence, although the same two possibilities exist.
One possible explanation for the two different postmarks on covers from crew members is that some crew members
prepared their covers before recovery day and these covers were taken ashore with the hand canceller and postmarked
there. While other crew members left it until the recovery day to prepare their covers and these were postmarked
aboard with a machine cancel.
1) 'Primary Recovery Ship Handbook', Ray Cartier, 1993
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Last modified on 19 January 2010