GEMINI RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Gemini 9A - 6 June 1966ii

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS Wasp PRS - Carrier CVS-18 Y
USS Bordelon SRS - Radar Picket destroyer DD-881 Y
USS Chickaskia SRS - Oiler AO-54 Y
USS William C. Lawe SRS - Destroyer DD-763 Y
USS McCaffery SRS - Anti-Sub Destroyer DDE-860 Y
USS Nimble SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-459 Y
USS Opportune SRS - Salvage Ship ARS-41 N
USS Papago SRS - Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-160 N
USS Sabine SRS - Oiler AO-25 N
USS Robert L. Wilson SRS - Destroyer DD-847 Y
Pacific
USS Epperson SRS - Destroyer DD-719 Y
USS George K. MacKenzie SRS - Destroyer DD-836 Y
USS Hassayampa SRS - Oiler (recovery logistic ship) AO-145 Y (only 1 known)
USS Rupertus SRS - Destroyer DD-851 Y
Tracking & Communications Ships
USNS Rose Knot TS - West Atlantic, near Sao Tome, Brazil T-AGM 14 Y
USNS Coastal Sentry TS - Pacific T-AGM 15 Y
USNS Range Tracker TS - Position Unknown T-AGM 1 Y
USNS Wheelingi TS - Position Unknown T-AGM 8 N
Other
USNS Kingsport Communications Relay Ship - Stationed in San Francisco in a ready reserve status T-AG 164 U/K
Probably Not Involved
USS Saratoga The USS Hassayampa website claims this ship was involved. However, this seems unlikely as, according to her own website, she undertook a Mediterranean cruise during 1969. CVA-60 N
Not Involved
USS Kankakee Oiler AO-39 Y
USNS Twin Falls Tracking Ship T-AGM 11 Y

Cachets
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
GT-9 - Atlantic

Designed by Morris Beck it shows Gemini Capsule

Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
GT-9 - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows Gemini Capsule

Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Same as Navy Cachet Red-Green-Black Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Same as Navy Cachet Orange-Green-Black Printed
 GT-9 Cachet A small circular text cachet usually appears as an extra cachet. Produced by Morris Beck or Harry Gordon Black, Red, Blue Rubber Stamp
Goldcraft Cachet1 Recovery Ship for US Man in Space cachet Various Printed
Goldcraft Add-on Cachet Shows head of President Kennedy Black Rubber Stamp
Gordon Cachet Text cachet Purple, Red Rubber Stamp
Orbit Cachet Complex Printed Cachet showing Astronauts and Rocket etc - Navy Cachet usually on Back Green Printed

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
 USS Wasp  Machine Cancel Common
 USS Wasp Hand Cancel Common
USS Wasp Hand postmark with an inverted 1966 Scarce3
USS Rupertus Ship's name bottom of postmark Most Common
USS Rupertus Ship's name top of postmark Common

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Wasp Maroon, Black 651, 657
USS Bordelon Black 654
USS Chickaskia Black 656
USS William C. Lawe Black 653
USS McCaffery Maroon, Black 655
USS Robert L. Wilson Black 652
USS Epperson Maroon 647, 648
USS George K. MacKenzie Maroon 649
USS Rupertus Maroon 650

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Wasp Cover from a member of the crew to his son including a particularly interesting letter (see note iii) Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Wasp Two USS Wasp hand cancels in different corners of the cover and one is upside down Maroon (on back) Rubber Stamp
USS Wasp4 Unusual mimeographed cachet. Cover also has the scarce inverted 1966 postmark. This cachet has been reported on other SRS covers. B/W Mimeographed
USS Wasp Rare Official Business cover and thus no stamp required Maroon Rubber Stamp
 USS Nimble Gordon Text cachet & Stamp Like Self-Adhesive Green - B/W Rubber Stamp

USS Robert L. Wilson2

Ship's cachet plus Navy Cachet Black - Black Rubber Stamp

USS Robert L. Wilson

Navy Cachet plus a mission patch Black - Multicolour Rubber Stamp/ Patch
USS Robert L. Wilson B652 cover with extra postmark from Norfolk Jun 7 Multicolour Printed
USS Bordelon5 Ship's cachet instead of Navy cachet. This is the only one seen Black Rubber Stamp
USS William C. Lawe Has a second postmark from Jacksonville Black Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Wasp Black Navy cachet signed by Swimteam Commander, Danny Bowman UDT 21 6 June 1966
Notes General:
i) There is doubt as to whether this ship was involved in the mission
ii) The mission was originally scheduled for launch (as Gemini 9) on 17 May but was postponed when the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle failed to achieve orbit due to a booster failure earlier that day. The replacement Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) was launched successfully into Earth orbit on 1 June, but telemetry indicated that the shroud had failed to jettison properly. Gemini 9 was to launch shortly thereafter but ground equipment failure resulted in a postponement until 3 June. Source: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1966-047A
iii) The letter is interesting in that, as well as the usual pleasantries, it mentions completing several trials of the recovery procedures including the use of a dummy capsule which looks like the real thing. The trials also included fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and UDT swimmers.

Notes Other:
1) From the collection of Steve Durst
2) From the collection of Antoni Rigo
3) Two other inverted 1966 covers are known; one on a Beck B651 from the collection of Eddie Bizub and a second on a Beck B657 from the collection of Steve Durst. Thanks to Owen Murray's website for the B651 scan.
4) From the collection of Dave Blog
5) From the collection of Tom Steiner

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