APOLLO RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Apollo 11 (AS-506) - 24 July 1969

 

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
Atlantic
USS New SRS - Destroyer DD-818 Y
USS Ozark SRS - Mine Countermeasures Support Ship MCS-2 Y
USS Salinani (Also see this variation8) SRS - Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-161 Y
Pacific
USS Hornet PRS - Carrier CVS-12 Y
USS Goldsborough SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-20 Y
Tracking Shipsii
USNS Redstone TS - Pacific T-AGM 20 Y
USNS Huntsville TS - Pacific T-AGM 7 Y
USNS Mercury TS - Pacific T-AGM 21 Y
USNS Vanguard TS - Tracking Ship T-AGM-19 Y
Other
USS Arlingtoniii Communications Relay Ship - Presidential Liaison Support AGRM-2 Y (Rare)
USS Carpenter Destroyer - Presidential SAR Support DD-825 Y (Extremely rare)
USS Hassayampavii SRS - Oiler - Replenishment vessel for both fleets AO-145 Y (Only one known)vi
Recovery Control Centers
Norfolk Naval Air Station Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Not Involved
USS Fort Snelling2c Dock Landing Ship LSD-30 Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity

USS Hornet

Machine Cancel - Type I ' -AM' 23mm dia. Less Common

USS Hornet

Machine Cancel - Type II 'AM' 21mm dia. More Common
 USS Hornet Hand Cancel Least Common
USS Hornet Missing Time Slugix Rare
USS Hornet Both Apollo 11 & Apollo 12 postmarks with an Apollo 12 cachet Only 1 seen
USS Hornet7 Hand Cancel - Missing both the Time Slug and the Year (2 examples) Only 2 seen
USS Hornet6 Hand Cancel - Year Below Time Slug Only 1 seen
USS Hornet1 Both a Hand Cancel and a Machine Cancel! Rare
USS Hornet5,v Another with both a Hand Cancel and a Machine Cancel! Rare
USS Hornet1 Both types of Machine Cancels! Extremely Rare
USS New AM Below 24 Common
USS New A.M. Above 24 Less Common

USS Arlingtoniii

Honolulu 1 Aug 1969 Cancel Hard to Find
USS Goldsborough 'No Dots' Postmark "AM" Common
USS Goldsboroughiv ' Dots' Postmark "A.M." Rare
USS Salinan Jacksonville 16 Jul postmark Common
USS Salinan Jacksonville 25 Jul postmark Less Common


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

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Command Module and a detacted Lunar Lander

Maroon Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
Atlantic - Version 1

As above but confined within a square and of different dimensions plus a different view of the lunar lander

Maroon,  Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet
Atlantic - Version 2
viii

As above but lunar lander similar to Pacific version. Also text is in a different position. Very hard to find.

Black Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachet for the Atlantic Version 2 except text is in a different position Green/Orange/Blackk Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Similar to Beck Cachet for the Atlantic Red/Green/Black Printed
Beck 5th Anniv. Cover Shows Part Earth, Capsule in Water & Seal Orange/Green Blue Printed
Orbit Cachet Printed cachet with Navy Cachet on top. A second example1 with a different postmark. Greyscale/Maroon Printed/Rubber Stamp
Goldraft Cachet Maroon Navy Cachet plus Black President Nixon Goldey Cachet Maroon/Black Rubber Stamp
A Different Goldcraft Cachet An Apollo 11 rocket on pad cachet Red Rubber Stamp
Navy Officer's Crest - Atlantic Fleet Shows a Navy Officer's Crest Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Officer's Crest - Pacific Force Shows a Navy Officer's Crest Maroon Rubber Stamp
Artopages Cachet Artopages cachet with a black Navy cachet on top Orange & Blue Printed
Art Craft Cachet Shows Lunar Lander above the Moon plus the three Astronauts Monochrome Printed
K Karcher Cachet Shows part Earth and an Apollo capsule - Very Rare Yellow & Red Printed
Gordon Cachet Type 1 APOLLO XI MOON MEN RETURN etc Purple, Maroon Rubber Stamp
Gordon Cachet Type 2 APOLLO XI MOON MEN SPLASH DOWN etc Maroon Rubber Stamp
Unknown Type 1 Apollo 11 Souvenir Cover B/W Printed

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers

Ship

Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS New Black B807
USS Ozark Maroon, Black B805, B806
USS Hornet Maroon B801, B802
USS Arlington Maroon None
USS Goldsborough Maroon B803, B804

5th Anniversary Covers

USS Goldsborough None 925
USS New None 926
USS Iwo Jima None 927
USS Austin None 928
USS Hawkins None 929

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Hornet Ship's cachet and postmarked two days before launch Black Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet Cover from Frank Overton, a member of the crew plus a letter from Frank to his family Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet Cover from crew member to NASA Public Affairs Officer postmarked 22 July None None
USS Hornet Cachet shows capsule in the sea with a helicopter approaching Black Printed
USS Hornet Cachet shows drawing of a Carrier plus capsule under parachutes Black & Blue Versions exist Rubber Stamp?
USS Hornet Unusual cachet shows the moon plus US Space stamps with a hand cancel. Also exists with a machine cancel. Greyscale Printed
USS Hornet Hand drawing of capsule under parachutes - hand cancel - part of a series of hand drawn covers. See a different one7. B/W Hand Drawn
USS Hornet US Navy cachet on top of an unusual printed cachet Maroon - B&W Rubber Stamp / Printed
USS Hornet Mission Emblem Cachet Multicolour Printed
USS Hornet Unusual cachet shows capsule descent to Ocean, Carrier & Recovery Helicopter plus text Blue with red text Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet Late postmark - possibly return to port None None
USS Hornet Interesting light blue cachet covering entire cover Light Blue Printed
USS Hornet1 General Apollo 11 Astronaut on the Moon cachet Aqua Printed?
USS Hornet1 Cachet shows a Carrier Blue Rubber Stamp?
USS Hornet2 Rare IRC card Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet2b Beautiful hand painted cachet & Navy cachet Multicolour & Maroon Printed / Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet / FDC9 USS Hornet cover with an extra 10c First Man on the Moon stamp and Titusville FD postmark Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS New Navy Recovey Force cachet on a Forces Air Letter - Rare Black Rubber Stamp
USS New2a Goldcraft cachet shows a rocket on its pad Red Rubber Stamp
USS Ozark Mission emblem cover. Unusual for a Secondary Recovery Ship Multicolour Printed
USS Ozark Shows drawing of a rocket launch Multicolour Stickon
USS Ozark1 Cover has Ship's Cachet in addition to the usual Navy Cachet Black/Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Ozark2e Cover has a drawing of a rocket launch Multicolour Printed or Stickon
USS Goldsborough Navy Recovey Force cachet on a Forces Air Letter - Rare Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Goldsborough Navy Recovey Force cachet on top of unusual Apollo 11 picture cachet B&W - Maroon Printed / Rubber Stamp
Western Samoa Special Recovery Postmark Black Hand Cancel
Washington DC President aboard Primary Recovery Ship USS Hornet - 24 July 1969 Grey Scale Printed
Washington DC Navy Cachet - 29 July 1969 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Honolulu Maroon Navy Recovey Force cachet - late postmark 18 Aug. See also this one for 14 Aug. Maroon Rubber Stamp
Honolulu Maroon Navy Recovey Force cachet - late postmark - possibly return to port - 27 Jul Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS New / USNS Range Recoverer USNS Range Recoverer cachet with a USS New postmark Black Rubber Stamp
USS Hornet & Others Three different ships on Forces Air Letters Black / Maroon Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Coversxi - many of these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Hornet Signed by the ship's Commander - Machine Cancel Type 1 24 July 1969
USS Hornet Signed by the ship's Commander & Executive Officer - Machine Cancel Type 2 24 July 1969
USS Hornet Signed by the ship's Commander - Hand Cancel 24 July 1969
USS Hornet Signed by the NASA Recovery Team Leader Dr Donald Stullken - Machine Pmk 24 July 1969
Photoxii Photo of a helicopter landing on the USS Hornet (actually from Apollo 12) signed by Recovery helicopter pilot Cdr Donald Jones None
USS Hornet2 Signed by the ship's Commander and the Recovery Helicopter Pilot - Hand Pmk 24 July 1969
USS Hornet1 Signed by the Recovery Helicopter Pilot - Hand Pmk 24 July 1969
USS Hornet2 Signed by Swin II Recovery Helicopter team 24 July 1969
USS Hornet2 Beck B802 printed cover signed by John C. Stonesifer Chief, Recovery Systems Branch, Landing and Recovery Division and Donald E. Stullken NASA Recovery Team Leader 24 July 1969
USS Hornet3 A great cover - A Captain's cover signed by the ship's Commander - Hand Pmk 24 July 1969
USS Hornet Signed by 4 members of the Swim Team 2 which did the actual recovery on back of cover 24 July 1969
USS Hornet Signed by 4 members of the UDT-11 frogmen & Air Boss (one HC & one MC) 24 July 1969
USS Hornet2b Helicopter Recovery cover - Late postmark 31 July 1969
USS Hornet4 Beck B802 cover signed by the ship's Commanding Officer & an Admiral 24 July 1969
USS Ozark2b A nice Beck crew cover signed by the Commander of TF140 24 July 1969
 
50th Anniversary of Splashdown Covers
Postmark Description
Cape Canaveral Shows a recovery scene with capsule under parachutes, PRS and Recovery helicopter.
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Beautifully done cover shows a picture of the USS Hornet during capsule recovery.
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Cover shows Alameda City emblem, capsule under parachutes and USS Hornet cachet
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Cover shows B&W USS Hornet emblem.
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Cover shows photo of the USS Hornet
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Great cover shows the USS Hornet, recovery helicopter and capsule in the Ocean.
Alameda Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Cover from the US Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum with a 50th anniversary stamp and one with a standard stamp.
Alameda Very nice cover shows Apollo 11 capsule under parachutes splashing down plus various pictures on the back
Alameda Another very nice cover with mission emblem, Apollo 11 launch and footprint on front plus various pictures on the back.
Alameda A reproduction of an Apollo 11 Captain's cover with a First Moon Landing stamp and postmark
Alameda & USS Hornet An original cover with USS Hornet postmark with added Moon Landing stamp and postmark
Alameda & Cape Canaveral A very nice hand painted cove with both the Alameda & CC pictorial postmarks
Alameda & KSC 1969 An original mission emblem cover with KSC postmark from 16 July 1969 with added Moon Landing stamp and postmark
Alameda2d Special pictorial Recovery postmark on a vintage postcard showing the USS Hornet.
Alameda2f Special pictorial Recovery postmark on a Mission Emblem cover
Alameda2d Special pictorial Recovery postmark. Cover shows multicolour emblems of USS Hornet and US Naval Station at Alameda, California
Cape Canaveral As above with special pictorial Landing postmark
Cape Canaveral Special pictorial Landing postmark. Cover shows the USS Goldsborough and emblems.
Cape Canaveral Special pictorial Landing postmark. Cover shows the USS New and emblems.
Cape Canaveral Special pictorial Landing postmark. Cover shows the mission emblem, Apollo 11 capsule and a cresent Moon in a large circle entitled 'First Moon Landing etc  - USS Hornet CVS-12'
Cape Canaveral Special mulicoloured First Moon Landing postmark. Cover shows the USS Hornet, Apollo 11 capsule under parachutes etc in a large circle entitled 'A Heritage of Excellence - USS Hornet CVS-12'
 
 

Notes General:
i ) Fleet Tug USS Salinan was a secondary recovery ship in case of a launch abort on the 16th.
ii ) After Apollo 11, NASA released the Redstone, Mercury and Hunstville, keeping only the Vanguard for the remaining six Apollo flights. Even then, the Vanguard was not a Primary tracking station, but a secondary one.
iii ) The most common cover for this ship has a Honolulu postmark. However, a small number of covers with a USS Arlington postmark exist and are most desireable.
iv ) So far only 9 copies have been found out of the many dozen USS Goldsborough covers examined
v ) From the collection of David Ball - David comments 'With a quarter million pieces of mail to postmark the envelope must have received the machine cancel first (one of 240,000). Since it was faced wrong (upside down) with no automated method of realizing it (tagged stamp or electric eye) it was postmarked but not cancelled. When they realized the error they went back with the HC (one of 10,000) to finish the job.'
vi ) Only one cover is know and it has an extremely poor postmark. However the date is quite clear and there are enough letters visible to identify it as the USS Hassayampa.
vii ) 'Continuing her service in the Western Pacific, Hassayampa served as replenishment vessel during the Apollo 11 recovery mission where she was on hand for replenishment duties for USS Hornet (CVS-12) and support vessels USS Arlington (AGMR-2), USS Goldsborough (DDG-20), USS New (DD-818), USS Ozark (MCS-2) and USS Salinan (ATF-161). On 22 July 1969, the USS Hassayampa refueled the USS Hornet (CVS-12) just prior to Hornet's recovery of the Apollo 11 space capsule. Hornet's deck log shows this occurring on July 22, 1969, about 36 hours before Hornet picked up the Apollo 11 astronauts.' (http://www.angelwind.com/hassayampa/history.html). Note also the note at the bottom of a letter from the USS Hornet's Commanding Officer to Admiral Combs that the Hassayampa had provided outstanding support.
viii ) Applies to the USS New and the USS Ozark. It appears that Version 2 of the cachet is much harder to find than Version 1.
ix) Only two other covers have been reported by Lee Kok How who first pointed out the variety and Steve Durst. Two others have been reported by Gerard Zonneveld (see this one and this one).
xLetter from Admiral Moore regarding selection of the USS Hornet as the PRS. Return letter from Dr George Mueller.
xi) Clancy Hatleberg was the “decon” swimmer who open the hatch and pulled the astronauts into the raft for decontamination. John Wolfram was the first swimmer into the water (from the helo) and attached the sea anchor to slow down the spacecraft drift rate. Mike Mallory and Wes Chesser were the other two that entered the water to attach the flotation collar and the rafts. See A11 Recovery Teams for full list of the recovery personel. Information thanks to Bob Fish of the USS Hornet Museum.
xii) You can tell the difference between the two helo pictures by the number of “Apollo” insignias on the front side of the helo – 3 is for A11 (helo #66 having done A8, A10 and A11) while 4 is for A12.

Notes Other:
1) From the collection of Tom Steiner
2) Sold on eBay in 2010 a) 2011 b) 2013 c) 2015 d) 2019 e) 2018 f) 2021
3) From the collection of Woody Witt
4) From the collection of Martin Schwebs Rasmussen
5) From the collection of David Ball
6) From the collection of Lee Kok How
7) From the collection of Gerard Zonneveld
8) From the collection of Andre Gutmann
9) From the collection of Timothy Preston

Articles:
a)  A Study of USS New Covers


 

 

 

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