GEMINI RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Gemini 5 - 29 August 1965i

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS Lake Champlain PRS - Carrier CVS-39 Y
USS Avenge1 SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-423 Y (rare)
USS DuPointiii SRS - Destroyer DD-941 Y
USS Exultant1 SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-441 Y (rare)
USS Manley SRS - Destroyer DD-940 Y
USS Neosho SRS - Oiler AO-143 Y
USS New SRS - Destroyer DD-818 Y
USS James C Owens SRS - Destroyer DD-776 Y
USS Preserver2 SRS - Salvage Ship ARS-8 Y (E. rare)
USS Waldronv SRS - Destroyer DD-699 N
USS John W Weeks SRS - Destroyer DD-701 Y
Various Other Boats One LCU, two smaller boats plus six amphibious vehicles  Various  N
Pacific
USS Chipola SRS - Oiler AO-63 Y
USS Goldsborough SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-20 Y
USS George MacKenzie SRS - Destroyer DD-836 Y
USS Leonard F Mason SRS - Destroyer DD-852 Y
USS Taylor SRS - Destroyer DD-468 Y
Tracking & Communications Ships
USNS Rose Knot TS - Pacific, Off the West Coast of South America T-AGM 14 Y
USNS Coastal Sentry TS - Pacific, NE of the Philippines T-AGM 15 Y
USNS Wheeling TS - Pacific, NW of Hawaii T-AGM 8 Y
USNS Kingsport Communications Relay Ship - Position Unknown T-AG 164 Y
Not Involved
USNS Twin Falls4b Tracking Ship T-AGM 11 Y
USS Compass Island4c Ballistic Missle Research Vessel EAG-153 Y
USS McCard4b Destroyer DD-822 Y

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

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an anchor & crest

 Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an anchor & crest

 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Same as Navy Cachet  Black-Orange Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Same as Navy Cachet  Blue-Orange Printed
 GT-5 Cachet A small circular text cachet usually appears as an extra cachet. Produced by Morris Beck Black, Red, Blue, Purple Rubber Stamp
Orbit Cachet Complex Printed Cachet showing Astronauts and Rocket etc - Navy Cachet usually on Back Green Printed
Boerger Cachet Navy Recovery Ship cachet shows SE USA & Cape Kennedy. Another example. Blue-Black Printed
Ekas Cachet? Shows a Gemini Capsule and Mission Number Black Rubber Stamp
General Type 1 Shows two Astronauts in a Gemini Capsule B/W Printed

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Lake Champlain Machine Cancel Common
USS Lake Champlainii Hand cancel - Type I - 32-33mm Less Common
USS Lake Champlainii Hand Cancel -Type II - 35-36mm Less Common
USS Lake Champlain Both a Hand and a Machine Postmark Possible Unique
USNS Coastal Sentry3 Air Force Postal Service Sept 7 1965 - Note the year is inverted which seems to be the standard for this cover Common
USNS Coastal Sentry US Navy 17066 Sept 10 1965 Common

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Lake Champlain Black, Maroon 561
USS DuPoint Black, Maroonvi 563, 569
USS Manley Black 562
USS Neosho Black 565, 567
USS New Black 568
USS James C Owens Black 566
USS John W Weeks Black 564
USS Chipola Maroon 560
USS Goldsborough Maroon 555
USS George MacKenzie Maroon 558, 559
USS Leonard F Mason Maroon 556, 559
USS Taylor Maroon 557

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type

USS Lake Champlain

Postmarks for both start of mission and splashdown Black Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain4a Two postmarks -CC for start of mission and USS Lake Champlain for recovery Black Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain4b Extremely Rare dual postmark - Both machine & hand cancels Black Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain Interesting crew mail from the 20th - machine cancel None None
 
Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Coversiv - most these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Lake Champlain Cover signed by pilot of the recovery helicopter - Cdr. Fred Highsmith - Hand Cancel 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain Another Cover signed by pilot of the recovery helicopter - Cdr. Fred Highsmith - Machine Cancel 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain1 Signed by Ensign Frank Cleary, a member of UDT 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain Signed by ship's CO, Captain James Longino, Jr. 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain4c Signed by a member of the UDT 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain Interesting Ship's Commendation from the Commanding Officer to the crew of the USS Lake Champlain for a job well done during Gemini 5 None
USS Lake Champlain Lovely cover signed by 3 members of the UDT team 29 Aug 1965
USS Lake Champlain Cover signed by Commander of the Atlantic Recovery Group 29 Aug 1965
USS New Cover signed by Commander of the Atlantic Recovery Group and the main recovery helicopter pilot 29 Aug 1965

 

Notes General:
i ) This seems to be the first mission where the colour of the cachet was successfully co-ordinated with the Recovery Force. Atlantic - Black ; Pacific - Maroon
ii ) The Handcancel has not been seen on a Beck printed cover
iii) The USS Dupont recovered the Titan booster - the first one ever recovered.
iv) There is much confusion regarding the recovery of the Astronauts and their capsule. It appears that an Air Rescue aircraft (HC-97) from an uprange position arrived first but it was decided not to deploy its pararescue team but to wait for a helicopter from the USS Lake Champlain. That helicopter deployed a swimmer team which secured the capsule and eventually helped the Astronauts aboard and transported them to the USS Lake Champlain. Two and a half hours later the USS Lake Champlain arrived and brought the capsule aboard using it’s onboard crane [NASA Mission Report]. However the part played by the USS Dupont (the closest ship to the capsule) is unclear. Many reports state that it was the first ship to arrive at the capsule and waited until the Astronauts and capsule were rescued. However there is much doubt about these reports.
v) The USS Waldron was assigned as a slealth vessel for the mission. Its orders directed the Waldron not to allow any Soviet vessel to recover any part of any component of the launch rockets, meaning to put the Waldron between any Soviet vessel and the object. See email for full details of this ship's extemely interesting mission. Information thanks to Ted T. Business.
vi) Only one is known

Notes Other:
1) From the collection of Tom Steiner
2) From the collection of Eddie Bizub
3) From the collection of Antoni Rigo
4) Sold on eBay in a) 2010 b) 2011 c) 2013

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 3 September 2018

 


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