SKYLAB RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Skylab 3 (Manned Skylab II) - Launch 28 July 1973 - Splashdown 25 September 1973

Recovery Force Shipsi
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS Escape SRS - Rescue & Salvage Ship ARS-6 Y
Pacific
USS New Orleans PRS - Carrier LPH-11 Y
USS Grappleiii SRS - Rescue & Salvage Ship ARS-53 Y
Tracking Ships
USNS Vanguard TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-19 Y
USNS Redstone ii TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-20 Y
Others
USS Bolsteriii Rescue & Salvage Ship ARS-39 N
USS Takelmaiii Fleet Tug ATF-113 N
Recovery Control Center
Norfolk VA Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control center N/A Y
Not Involved
USS Adroit SRS - Minesweeper MSO-509 Y
USNS Range Sentinel iv Tracking Ship T-AGM-22 Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS New Orleans  Hand Cancel - Day of Recovery
Used in Hawaii
Common
USS New Orleans Hand Cancel - Day after Recovery
Used aboard PRS
Rare
USS Escape Red Double Circle Jacksonville Mayport NS STA. Postmark -
USS Escape Black Jacksonville Mayport Naval Station Postmark Common
USS Escape Greyscale photo of the Escape - Cape Canaveral -
Jul 28
 
USS Escape Cape Canaveral - Aug 6 -
USS Escape3 USPS 320 - 2? Sept -
Norfolk VA Machine Cancel Common
Norfolk VA Hand Cancel without Time Slug -
Norfolk VA Hand Cancel with Time Slug -
Norfolk VA Both Hand Cancel and Machine Cancel Less Common
USNS Redstone Cape Canaveral - Jul 28 - MC -
USNS Redstone Cape Canaveral - Jul 28 - HC -
USNS Redstone Patrick AFB - Jul 28. Also exists with a Blue cachet -
USNS Redstone Cape Canaveral - Sep 25 - MC -
USNS Vanguard Cape Canaveral - Jul 28 - MC -
USNS Vanguard Cape Canaveral - Sep 25 - MC -
USNS Vanguard3 Mar Del Plata - 21 Jul - nearest port to tracking area -
USNS Vanguard Mar Del Plata - 28 Jul -  nearest port to tracking area -
USS Grapple US Postal Service 967 -
Kunia Jul 28 - Black TF-130 cachet -
Kunia Sep 25 - Maroon TF-130 cachet Common

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

Designed by Morris Beck it shows capsule, skylab, parachute etc plus TF-140

Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows capsule, skylab, parachute etc plus TF-130

 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Similar to but larger than Navy Cachet Blue-Orange-Black Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Similar to but larger than Navy Cachet Green-Orange-Black Printed
TF-130 Cachet Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force - Pacific
Shows a capsule & various Recovery Craft
Black, Maroon Rubber Stamp
TF-140 Cachet TF-140 Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force Atlantic shows Apollo capsule in sea with parachutes attached Blue, Black Rubber Stamp
Artopages Cachet At least three different cachets exist
1) Navy Ship 2) Skylab 3) General
Various Printed

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS New Orleans Maroon B892, B893
Norfolk Black B894, B895

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS New Orleans Mission Emblem Cover Mulicolour Printed
USS New Orleans USS New Orleans postcard with note from crew member. USPS 967 Hi postmark Multicolour Printed
USS New Orleans4d Unusual Hand Painted Cover Mulicolour Painted
USS Grapple Ship's Cachet  Black Rubber Stamp
USS Grapple / USS New Orleans4 USS Grapple cachet with USS New Orleans Postmark Black + Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Grapple / USS New Orleans6 Another USS Grapple cachet with USS New Orleans Postmark plus ship's cachet on back Black + Maroon Rubber Stamp
Pago Pago, Samoa3 Pago Pago Postmark, port is close to splashdown site Multiple Printed
Norfolk TF-140 cachet Black Rubber Stamp
Norfolk Includes 2 x 10c Postage Due Stamps Black Rubber Stamp
USS Escape5 Photo of the ship cachet Black Printed
Kunia HI Inner & Outer Space Printed Cachet Red & Black Printed
USNS Range Sentinel3 Blue Cachet Blue Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - covers postmarked on 26th were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS New Orleans Main Recovery Helicopter Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & co-pilot of the Recovery helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans Swim Helicopter Recovery Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & co-pilot of the recovery helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans ELS Helicopter Recovery Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & crew of the recovery helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans4c Relay Helicopter Recovery Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & crew of the recovery helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans Another Main Recovery Helicopter Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & co-pilot of the recovery helicopter with the ship's official cachet on the back 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans A Helicopter Recovery Cover signed by 9 members of the swim team. Note that the pilot and co-pilot names appear not to be signatures. Also co-pilot appears to be incorrect. 25 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans PRS Cover signed by pilot & co-pilot of the ELS helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans 2 unknown signatures 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans This cover was signed by the three Skylab 3 Astronauts.It was also signed by the Commanding Officer. It was probably not aboard the PRS during recovery. See companion covers for Skylab 2 & 4. 25 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans Postcard signed by Rescue Helicopter Pilot Ted E. Dahill and the lead Recovery Swimmer from UDT-11 Jim Maxwell None
USS New Orleans PRS cover signed by the lead Recovery Swimmer from UDT-11 Jim Maxwell 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans PRS Cover signed by pilot, co-pilot & Crew of the Swim helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans Another helicopter Recovery Cover marked 25 Sept 1973 and signed by pilot & co-pilot of the Recovery helicopter 26 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans PRS cover signed by the Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert Wilhelm Carius 25 Sept 1973
USS New Orleans4b PRS cover signed by Jack Lousma, the ship's CO Capt. Robert Wilhelm Carius and the Recovery helicopter pilot Ted E. Dahill 25 Sept 1973

 

Notes General:
i ) The USS Escape was the launch site recovery ship for the launch on July 28. The USS Ticonderoga and the USS Grapple were recovery ships for the splashdown on September 25.
ii) The USNS Redstone was stationed in port on standby
iii) NASA Report JSC-08662 states that the three ships USS Grapple, USS Bolster and USS Takelma were all involved with one of the three active at all times
iv) This cover is interesting in that it has a TF-140 cachet despite the ship not being mentioned in any mission reports. Was it a reserve for the mission?

Notes Other:
3) From the collection of Tom Steiner
4) Sold on eBay October 2009 b) 2011 c) 2014 d) 2015
5) From the collection of Luc Jallot
6) From the collection of Steve Durst

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

 


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