Mercury-Atlas 8 - 3 October 1962i,ii - Walter M. Schirra, Jr.

Recovery Force Ships


Designation Covers
Pacific (TF-130)iii
USS Kearsarge PRS - Carrier CVS-33 Y
USS Epperson SRS - Anti-Submarine Destroyer DDE-719 Y
USS O'Bannon SRS - Destroyer DDE-450 Y
USS Philip SRS - Destroyer DD-498 Y
USS Radford SRS - Anti-Submarine Destroyer DDE-446 Y
USS Renshawiv SRS - Destroyer DD-499 Y
USS Walker SRS - Anti-Submarine Destroyer DDE-517 Y
Atlantic (TF-140)
USS Lake Champlain SRS - Carrier CVS-39 Y
USS Charles F. Adams SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-2 Y
USS Affray SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-511 N
USS Alacrity SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-520 N
USS Barry SRS - Destroyer DD-933 Y
USS Bordelon SRS - Radar Picket Destroyer DDR-881 Y
USS Decatur SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-31 Y
USS Dyess SRS - Radar Picket Destroyer DDR-880 Y
USS Fletcherv SRS - Destroyer DD-445 N
USS Furse SRS - Radar Picket Destroyer DDR-882 Y
USS Haynesworth SRS - Destroyer DD-700 Y
USS Henley SRS - Destroyer DD-391 Y
USS Hoistvii,3 SRS -Salvage & Rescue Ship ARS-40 Y
USS Ingraham SRS -Destroyer DD-694 Y
USS John Paul Jones SRS - Destroyer DD-32 Y
USS Kaskaskia SRS - Oiler AO-27 Y
USS Willard Keith SRS - Destroyer DD-775 Y
USS Norris SRS - Anti-Submarine Destroyer DDE-859 Y
USS Charles S. Sperry SRS - Destroyer DD-697 Y
USS Coontz CRS - Guided Missile Destroyer - on Standby Pacific DLG-9 Y
Tracking & Communication Ships
USAF Coastal Sentry TS - Stationed South of Japan T-AGM 15 N
USAF Rose Knot TS - Stationed near Pitcairn Island T-AGM 14 N
USNS Range Tracker TS - Stationed Near Hawaii - Remote site functions T-AGM 1 Y
USNS Huntsville TS - Stationed near Midway T-AGM 7 Y
USNS Watertown3 TS - Stationed near Midway T-AGM 6 Y
USNS American Mariner TS - Stationed near Midway T-AGM 12 N
Not Involved
USS Aeolus3 Cable Repair Ship ARC-3 Y
USS Algol3 Attack Cargo Ship AKA-54 Y
USS Alstede Stores Ship AF-48 Y
USS Antietam Carrier CVS-36 Y
USS Barney3 Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-6 Y
USS Barton Destroyer DD-722 Y
USS Bearss Destroyer DD-654 Y
USS Beatty Destroyer DD-756 Y
USS Constellation Carrier CVA-64 Y
USS Coral Sea Carrier CVA-43 Y
USS Du Pont Destroyer DD-941 Y
USS English Destroyer DD-696 Y
USS Enterprise Carrier CVA-65 Y
USS Essex Carrier CVS-9 Y
USS Forrestal Carrier CVA-59 Y
USS Galveston3 Guided Missile Cruiser CLG-3 Y
USS Hancock Carrier CVA-19 Y
USS Haven3 Hospital Ship AH-12 Y
USS Hawkins Destroyer DDR-873 Y
USS Hornet Carrier CVS-12 Y
USS Hunley2 Submarine Tender AS-31 Y
USS Independence Carrier CVA-62 Y
USS Kitty Hawk   A Second Example Carrier CVA-63 Y
USS Lexington Carrier CVS-16 Y
USS Long Beach Guided Missile Cruiser CG(N)-9 Y
USS Midway Carrier CVA-41 Y
USS Oriskany Carrier CVA-34 Y
USS  Princeton Carrier LPH-5 Y
USS Ranger Carrier CVA-61 Y
USS Randolph Carrier CVS-15 Y
USS Bon Homme Richard Carrier CVA-31 Y
USS Robison Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-12 Y
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt Carrier CVA-42 Y
USS Saratoga Carrier CVA-60 Y
USS Shangrila Carrier CVA-38 Y
USS Soley Destroyer DD-707 Y
USS Ticonderoga Carrier CVA-14 Y
USS Tidewater - Official Mail6 Destroyer Tender AD-31 Y
USS Vesole Radar Picket Destroyer DDR-878 Y
USS Warrington Destroyer DD-843 Y
USS Wasp Carrier CVS-18 Y
USS Yorktown Carrier CVS-10 Y
USNS Longview Tracking Ship T-AGM 3 Y
USNS Richfield Tracking Ship T-AGM 4 Y
USNS Sunnyvale Tracking Ship T-AGM 5 Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Kearsarge MC - Time below date in Postmark - Type 1 Scarce
USS Kearsarge MC - Time above date in Postmark - Type 2  Scarce
USS Kearsarge Hand Cancel Even Scarcer
USS Kearsarge Both Hand and Machine Cancel Extremely Rare
USS Kearsarge Hand Cancel for recovery day plus machine cancel for Nov 4 Possibly Unique
USS Kearsarge4 Includes a red double circle USS Kearsarge New York cancel Extremely Rare
USS Enterprise & USS Kearsarge Unusual dual cancels. One from USS Enterprise for MA-8 and the other USS Kearsarge for one year anniversary? Possibly Unique
USS Charles F. Adams AM Postmark Common
USS Charles F. Adams PM Postmark Rare
USS Lake Champlain Hand Cancel Common
USS Lake Champlain6 Hand Cancel with reversed 3 U/K But Rare
USS Lake Champlain Machine Cancel Extremely Rare
USS Hancock Hand Cancel Common
USS Hancock Machine Cancel U/K
USS Wasp Hand Cancel Common
USS Wasp4 Machine Cancel U/K
USS Bon Homme Richard Normal Pmk Common
USS Bon Homme Richard 3 in Pmk is Reversed U/K But Rare
USNS Huntsville Honolulu Hi on 28th October Common
USNS Huntsville Honolulu Hi Navy Terminal Sta. on 110th October U/K

Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Beck Cachetvi Shows a Mercury Capsule  Blue, Black, Red  Printed
Goldcraft Cachet  Shows Mercury Capsule & Recovery ship Various Printed
Goldcraft Text Cachet 1 Sigma Sea Recovery etc Red, Green Rubber Stamp
Fuerst Cachet Shows drawing Mercury capsule, ship & sunrise plus text Bicolour - Various Rubber Stamp
 Schultz Cachet Shows a Mercury Capsule inside a circle of rope plus text  Maroon, Green, Purple, Black Rubber Stamp
Gordon Text Cachet 1 USN SHIP ON STATION etc. Often appears with other cachets Red, BluePurple, Red & Purple, Blue & Green Rubber Stamp
Gordon Text Cachet 2 Around the Earth in MA-8 etc Aqua, Maroon Rubber Stamp
Gordon Text Cachet 3 (posible) Pick up ship USS Kearsarge CVS 33 etc Black, Maroon4a Rubber Stamp
Gordon Text Cachet 4 U.S. NAVY RECOVERY SHIP ON STATION etc Maroon4b Rubber Stamp
Gordon Picture Cachet A small stamp-like picture of Schirra. At least three different types exist. One with an USA flag also exists Brownscale S/H
Schirra Shot Shows the Earth and an orbital path Black Rubber Stamp
Sokolsky Cachet Shows Mercury capsule and earth Purple Printed
Type 1 Shows a Mercury Capsule plus text  Maroon, Blue, Black Rubber Stamp
Type 3 Text cachet mentions Task Force 130 and Mercury 6 orbit recovery force B/W Rubber Stamp
Type 4 Shows Schirra and the Earth - See also USS Norris Greyscale Printed
Type 5 Text Cachet 'Project Mercury Recovery Task Force MA-8' Multicolour Printed
Type 6 Mission Emblem Type cachet Multicolour Printed
Type 75 Mercury Capsule and Text Red Rubber Stamp
Type 8 Large Text cachet includes chain border and extra copy of the postmark Black Printed
Type 9 & Type 9a Atlantic & Pacific Fleet Recovery Force Ship text cachets. Possibly a W J Venezio cachet Blue Rubber Stamp
Type 10 Black on yellow capsule plus various text Various Printed
Type 11 Walter M Schirra Jr - Mercury-Atlas 8 etc. Green Rubber Stamp

Beck Cachet Numbersvi


Beck Numbers

USS John Paul Jones B77
USS Norris B78
USS Charles E. Sperry B79

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Kearsarge/
USNS Huntsville
Postmarked aboard USS Kearsarge plus ship's cachet but also with USNS Huntsville corner card and MSTS Cachet Black & Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge/
USNS Longview
Postmarked aboard USS Kearsarge plus ship's cachet but also with USNS Longview corner card and MSTS Cachet Black & Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge Ship's cachet - Type 2 Pmk Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge Unusual card with USS Kearsarge/MA-8 cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge An interesting cover with a hand cancel for the recovery and a machine cancel for 4th November. A second cover has now been found. Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge A postcard - rarely seen Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge USS Kearsarge postmark on large envelope Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge Preused GB Postcard reused on USS Kearsarge Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge Very nice late postmark cover with both the ship's Captain and Wally Schirra Jr. signatures, a rare black special MA-8 ship's cachet, a Schultz cachet on the back and a late hand cancel  for 19 November Various Rubber Stamp
USS Kearsarge4a Well done cover with hand drawing of capsule Multicolour Drawing
USS Decatur - Type 1 Ship's cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Decatur - Type 2 Ship's cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Dyess Ship's cachet plus Fuerst cachets Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Kaskaskia Late postmark with interesting note None N/A
USS Philip Ship's cachet - Note the misspelling of the ship's name in postmark. Note also that the ship's cachet and the postmark are incorrectly marked DDE-498 Black Rubber Stamp
USS Philip Ship's cachet - Note the misspelling of the ship's name in postmark. Note that while the ship's cachet has been corrected to DD-498, the postmark has not been corrected. Black Rubber Stamp
USS Philip Late postmark - 8 Oct plus text cachet Blue Rubber Stamp
 60 Years of Destroyers 1902-1962 - Small cachet shows a couple of Destroyers Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
USS Tidewater Rare Official Mail envelope - no stamp required None None
USS Enterprise Cachet shows small capsule under parachutes plus text Black Rubber Stamp
USS Renshaw USS Renshaw with a corner card Red & Black Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain As per USS Enterprise but with extra Aircraft Carrier and Earth cachet Black / Red Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain Shows the ship's emblem Multicolour Printed
USS Lake Champlain Shows photo of the ship Greyscale Printed
USS Lake Champlain4 Interesting cachet shows capsule orbiting earth and Schirra Greyscale Printed
USS Warrington Interesting cover addressed to Donald Schultz with his cachet on the back and an extra unknown cachet Maroon /Green Rubber Stamp
USS Renshaw4 USS Renshaw signed corner card with a postmark from Honolulu on 6 October - Schultz Cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
Philatelic Advice4a Letter from Public Information Officer to the Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Four N/A N/A

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - most of these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Kearsarge Crew Cover signed by the Commanding Officer Captain E. P. Rankin - Type 1 Pmk - Captain's signature uses a blue pen 3 October 1962
USS Kearsarge Crew Cover signed by the Commanding Officer Captain E. P. Rankin and Walter Schirra with both a hand & machine cancel - Also note the Captain's signature uses a black pen 3 October 1962
USS Kearsarge Ship's cachet and signed by Postal Clerk (unusual) - Type 1 Pmk 3 October 1962
Other items
Item Description
Message Public Information Office message to philatelists regarding late arriving covers

General Notes:
i) Note that just before this mission (31 August - 1 September) the name of Port Canaveral was changed to Cape Canaveral
ii) The mission was postponed on September 10 and October 1
iii) One NASA source adds an extra two unnamed ships to the Pacific Recovery Force
iv) The Renshaw was listed to be involved. A report by Donald O. Schultz in 'Project Mercury step into space' states that the ship was scratched and took no part in the mission. Both NASA and DOD still list the USS Renshaw as having taken part
v) There is doubt as to whether the USS Fletcher was involved
vi) This is the first mission for which Beck covers were available to the general public
vii) A late postmarked cover 23/10/1962 Norfolk exists

Other Notes:
2) From the collection of Dennis Paul
3) From the collection of Tom Steiner
4) Sold on eBay during 2011 a) 2020 b) 2022
5) From the collection of Florin Patapie
6) From the collection of Anthony O'Brien

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 18 May 2024