Mercury-Atlas 7 - 24 May 1962ii - M. Scott Carpenter

Recovery Force Shipsiii



Designation Covers
Atlantic (based around Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla FOUR)
USS John R. Pierce SRS/PRS (Capsule) - Destroyer DD-753 Y
USS Intrepid PRS - Carrier CVS-11 Y
USS Barton SRS - Destroyer DD-722 Y
USS Fred T. Berry SRS - Anti-Sub Destroyer DDE-858 Y
USS Dewey SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DLG-14 Y
USS Donner SRS - Dock Landing Ship LSD-20 Y
USS Elokomin SRS - Oiler AO-55 Y
USS English SRS - Destroyer DD-696 Y
USS Farraguti,1 SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DLG-6 Y (E. Rare)
USS Hank SRS - Destroyer DD-702 Y
USS Hoist SRS - Salvage & Rescue Ship ARS-40 N
USS Hunt SRS - Destroyer DD-674 Y
USS Massey SRS - Destroyer DD-778 Y
USS Moale SRS - Destroyer DD-693 Y
USS Remey SRS - Destroyer DD-688 Y (E. Rare)
USS Robinson SRS -Destroyer DD-562 Y
USS Soley SRS - Destroyer DD-707 Y
USS Speigel Grove SRS - Dock Landing Ship LSD-32 Y
USS Sturdy SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-494 N
USS Swerve SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-495 N
USS Wren SRS - Destroyer DD-568 Y
Tracking Ships
USAF Coastal Sentry TS - East Coast of Africa T AGM-15 N
Not Involved
USAF Rose Knot TS - In Dry Dock T AGM-14 N
USS Alstede & This One4a Stores Ship AF-48 Y
USS Antietam Carrier CVS-36 Y
USS Aucilla4a Fleet Oiler AO-56 Y
USS Cinarron4a Oiler AO-22 Y
USS Constellation & Another4b Carrier CVA-64 Y
USS Decatur Destroyer - was Actual Recovery Ship for MA-4 DD-036 Y
USS Enterpriseiv Carrier CVA-65 Y
USS Forrestal Carrier CVA-59 Y
USS Glennon Destroyer DD-840 Y
USS Hancock4a Carrier CVA-19 Y
USS Holder Destroyer DDE-819 Y
USS Lake Champlain Carrier CVS-39 Y
USS MacDonough3 Guided Missile Frigate DLG-8 Y
USS McNair3 Destroyer DD-679 Y
USS Marias4a Oiler AO-57 Y
USS Noa Destroyer DD-841 Y
USS Noble Attack Transport APA-218 Y
USS Okinawa Carrier LPH-3 Y
USS Oklahoma City4a Light Cruiser CLG-5 Y
USS Proteus4a Submarine Tender AS-19 Y
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt Carrier CV-42 Y
USS Sampson4a Destroyer (postmarked for mission scrub) DDG-10 Y
USS Sampson3 Destroyer DDG-10 Y
USS Shenandoah Destroyer Tender AD-26 Y
USS Wasp Carrier CVS-18 Y

Postmark Variations


Description of Postmark

USS Barton Ship's name on top of postmark Common
USS Barton Ship's name on bottom of postmark Common
USS Dewey Standard USS Dewey onboard postmark Common
USS Dewey USS Dewey New York postmark Less Common
USS Elokomin A.M. Postmark U/K
USS Elokomin P.M. Postmark Common



Description of Cachet

Colours Type
Beck Cachet1,2 This was Morris Beck's first cover for a Recovery Ship from the US Space program. It does not have a number like subsequent Beck covers. Green, Red & Black Printed
Goldcraft Cachet  Shows Mercury Capsule & Recovery ship Red, Red-Brown, Black, Yellow or Orange Printed
Schultz Cachet Shows a Mercury Capsule inside a circle of rope plus text  Various Printed
Gordon Cachet 1 US NAVY RECOVERY SHIP ON STATION .... Blue Rubber Stamp
Gordon Cachet 2 LT. CMDR.  M. SCOTT  CARPENTER 2nd US ASTRONAUT IN ORBIT .... Maroon Rubber Stamp
Gordon Cachet 3 Small Stamp Like US Flag S/H Multicolour S/H
Gordon Cachet 4 (possible) ASTRONAUT M S CARPENTER .... PICKED UP BY HELO AT 1530 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Gordon Cachet 54c  (possible) ASTRONAUT LCDR. M. SCOTT CARPENTER SPACECRAFT "AURORA" (possible) Black , Maroon Rubber Stamp
Unknown 1 'ASTRONAUT LCDR. M. SCOTT CARPENTER' etc text cachet Black Rubber Stamp
Unknown 2 Shows a Small Mercury Capsule  Black Rubber Stamp
Unknown 34f 2ND U.S. MANNED ORBITAL FLIGHT Red Rubber Stamp

Interesting Cachets & Covers


Description of Cachet

Colours Type
 USS Intrepid This is the Captain's Cover for this Mission signed by the Commanding Offier, J. L. Abbot Jr Black & Blue Printed
 USS Intrepid Cover with Captain's cachet without a signature on an airmail envelope Black & Blue Printed
 USS Intrepid3 Cover with Captain's cachet without a signature on a large envelope Black & Blue Printed
USS Intrepid5 Cover with Captain's cachet without a signature but with major printing errors. Another example4b. Black & Blue Printed
USS Intrepid4 Cover with Captain's cachet without a signature but with an even larger printing error Black & Blue Printed
USS Intrepid4 Cover with Captain's cachet without a signature and with a missing black colour Blue Printed
USS Intrepid4d Well done cover with hand drawing of capsule multicolour Drawing
USS John R. Piercev Back of Cover Black Rubber Stamp
USS John R. Piercev Cover with a slightly different cachet Black Rubber Stamp
USS John R. Pierce3 'Return to Port' Cover - May 30, 1962 Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS John R. Pierce4a Very Late postmark plus Beck like cachet Black Rubber Stamp
USS John R. Pierce7 A very rare Goldcraft cover. See also this one4e and this one8. Red Printed
USS Shenandoah Signature of Commander of Mercury Recovery Force
Radm John L. Chew
USS Dewey Special Ship's cachet for this Mission Light Blue, Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
USS Antietam4 A Different cachet Green Printed
USS English Airmail cover None N/A
60 years of Destroyers 1902-1962 - Small cachet shows a couple of Destroyers Maroon Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery


Description of Cover

Postmark Date
 USS Intrepid Captain's Cover signed by the Commanding Officer Captain J. L. Abbot Jr 24 May 1962
USS Intrepid Cover with Captain's cachet and signed by Recovery helicopter pilot - Rare 24 May 1962
USS Intrepid Captain's Cover signed by Recovery helicopter pilot - Rare 24 May 1962
USS John R. Pierce Cover signed by Scott Carpenter 24 May 1962
USS John R. Pierce6 Truely great flown helicopter cover - only one seen 24 May 1962

Notes General:
i ) When Aurora 7 overshot the planned primary recovery area by 240 miles, the USS Farragut, which was not assigned to the Recovery Force, was in the area along with a Coast Guard Cutter and a merchant ship, was requested to be prepared to assist in the recovery. It was the first ship to reach the spacecraft but did not have the special recovery equipment required to recover the spacecraft. She maintained surveillance until the USS John R. Pierce arrived to recover the capsule. Before the destroyer arrived, HSS-21 helos from the USS Intrepid recovered Carpenter and the pararescue team and returned them to the USS Intrepid. Source: 'Project Mercury .. one step into space', Donald O. Schultz (1967) & 'Results of the Second U.S. Manned Orbital Space Flight May 24, 1962', NASA SP-6.
ii ) Liftoff was delayed from May 7, May 15 and May 19
iii ) See article by Dr Ross J. Smith for a discussion of the phantom ships in the Pacific
iv) Covers are known that have the text in black (thanks to Toni Rigo) rather than maroon. Covers are also known without the text cachet.
v) A list of all known USS Pierce covers compiled by Dennis Dillman

Notes Other:
1) Cover is from the collection of Eddie Bizub. A second similar cover has been reported by Tom Steiner. Another cover, this time from the USS Fred T Berry, was sold on eBay in late 2019 for Euro 113.
2) An identical cover with a USS John R. Piece postmark appears in 'Primary Recovery Ship Cover Handbook', Ray E. Cartier, 1993 (7)
3) From the collection of Tom Steiner
4) Sold on eBay during 2013 a) 2014 b) 2015 c) 2019 d) 2020 e) 2021 f) 2022
5) From the collection of Woody Witt
6) From the collection of Walter M. Hopferwieser
7) From the collection of Steve Durst
8) From the collection of Timothy Preston

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 28 January 2024