Apollo 7 (AS-205) - 22 October 1968

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
USS Essexi PRS - Carrier CVS-9 Y
USS Arnebvi SRS - Amphibious Cargo Ship AKA-56 Y
USS Cambria SRS - Amphibious Transport LPA-36 Y
USS Paiuteii SRS - Fleet Ocean Tug ATF-159 Y (V. Rare)
USNS Vanguardiv Also with a blue cachet SRS - Tracking Ship (Dual Role) T-AGM-19 Y
USS Cochrane SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-21 Y
USS Nicholas SRS - Anti-Sub Destroyer DD-449 Y
USS Ponchatoula SRS - Oiler AO-148 N
USS Rupertus SRS - Destroyer DD-851 Y (V. Rare)
USS Henry Tucker SRS - Destroyer DD-875 Y (V. Rare)
Tracking & Communication Ships
USNS Redstone TS - Pacific T-AGM 20 Y
USNS Huntsville TS - Pacific T-AGM 7 Y
USNS Vanguardiv TS - Atlantic T-AGM 19 Y
USNS Mercury TS - between the Philippines and Japan T-AGM 21 Y
Recovery Control Center
Norfolk Naval Air Station VA Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Not Involvediii, iiia
USS Cubera/USS Orion Submarine / Submarine Tender - involved in ASW training SS-347/AS-18 Y
USS Hassayampa Oiler - Replaced by the USS Ponchatoula (various dates known - see this example) AO-145 Y
USS Ozark6 Mine Countermeasures Support Ship - Scratched from mission MCS-2 Y
USS Pawcatuck6 Oiler - involved in ASW training AO-108 Y
USS Putnam6 Destroyer DD-757 Y
USS Rushmore Dock landing Ship - Scratched LSD-14 Y

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Rupertus Oct 18 1968 Postmark - No Time Slug Very Scarce
USS Rupertus Oct 22 1968 Postmark - Time Slug - And a second7 Very Scarce
Norfolk Naval Air Station Large Postmark Common
Norfolk Smaller Postmark Common
USNS Mercury Small US Navy 17022 U/K
USNS Mercury Large US Navy 17022 U/K
USS Paiute Jacksonville Postmark - And another Common
USS Paiute5e Cape Canaveral U/K
USS Arneb Normal USS Arneb postmark plus red USS Arneb New York postmark. And another Very Scarce
USS Arneb4 Postmarked for launch rather than splashdown and with an inverted 11 Possibly unique

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

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Capsule

 See Below Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Capsule

 See Below Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachet  Atlantic:Blue-Red
Pacific :Green-Black
Beck Cachet - Pacific Similar to Navy Cachet  Atlantic:Blue-Red
Pacific :Green-Black
Beck USS Essex Variety2 Beck Printed Cachet - extremely rare Green-Black Printed
Norfolk VA4 Orbit Cachet Green Printed
TF-140 Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force TF-140 Emblem Black, Blue Rubber Stamp
Gordon Text Cachet Text cachet Apollo 7 Splashes Down etc. Purple, Maroon Rubber Stamp
Carlos Altgelt Cachet A Sokolsky design Blue Rubber Stamp?
Unknown Cachet 1 Recovery Operation Black Printed
Unknown Cachet 2 Splashdown & Recovery Operations Black Printed

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers


Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Essex Black, Blue, Maroon 758, 760, 761, 762
USS Arneb Black, Blue, Maroon small numbers of 759 to 762
USS Cambria Black, Maroon, Blue (only 3 known) 759
USS Cochrane Maroon 756, 757
USS Nicholas Maroon Only one cover is knownv
USNS Vanguard/Jacksonville Black, Blue small numbers of 759 to 762

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Essex Chief of Staff, ComCarDiv Twenty Corner Card - Navy Cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Essex TF-140 cachet - First one seen Black Rubber Stamp
USS Essex Very rare QSL verification card with Navy cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Essex1 Both a Navy and a Ship's cachet - Very unusual Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Essex5a Ship's Cachet - postmarked day before recovery - Very unusual Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Essex8 Great 'associated press' cover on ship's envelope with Navy cachet. Aqua / Maroon Printed / Rubber Stamp
Various A series of different FDCs were used for several ships including the USNS Vanguard, USS Cambria,USS Arneb and USS Essex8. Various Printed / Rubber Stamp
USS Arneb Both a second red USS Arneb NY postmark and a Commanding Officer corner card on the back Maroon Rubber Stamp
Chicago US Navy Atlantic cachet Black or Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Cochrane US Navy cachet plus unusual cachet Maroon - B&W Rubber Stamp / Printed
USS Cochrane Ship's Cachet - Often on Back of Cover Black Rubber Stamp
USS Nicholas Navy Cachet on Envelope with Embossed Navy Seal Maroon Embossed/ Rubber Stamp
USNS Vanguard Great cover with a blue Navy cachet on the front and a black Navy cachet on the back. Blue / Black Rubber Stamp
USNS Vanguard Unusual Rocket & NASA emblem cachet Red with Black Text Rubber Stamp / Printed
USNS Vanguard USNS Vanguard cachet with an extra 7 added Red Rubber Stamp

Warning - Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Various TF-140 cachet with a Norfolk postmark and the following text cachet 'APOLLO 7 USS xxxxx. These are not Recovery Ship covers. They are TF-140 Recovery Force covers. The following ship names have been seen: USS Essex, USS Arneb and USS Cambria Black Rubber Stamp
USS Essex5d Prisioner created cachet and machine postmark Black Rubber Stamp

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 Essex Recovery Cover signed by NASA Recovery Leader Dr Donald Stullhen 22 October 1968
USS Essex Recovery Cover signed by Recovery 3 Pilot & Co-Pilot - first helicopter to spot the Apollo 7 capsule 22 October 1968
USS Essex5b Interesting cover with a Commanding Officer, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Five corner card and signed by two members of the Recovery 3 helicopter. 22 October 1968
USS Essex5 Recovery Cover signed by various members of the recovery team 22 October 1968

Notes General:
i ) At least two sources mention that a USS Essex cover with a machine cancel exists. However, none have been sited and none illustrated in catalogs. If it exists, it is extremely rare.
ii ) Noted by most sources, this ship is not mentioned in the NASA Mission Report
iii ) Covers have been reported from the following ships ('Project Apollo' by Donald Schultz); USS Ellison, USS Stormes, USS Greene, USS Pawcatuck, USS Cubera, USS Cutlass (all involved in ASW training before/during the mission) and the USS Ozark which was scratched.
iiia ) Donald Schultz reported that the USS Ellison, USS Putnam, USS Stormes, USS Greene, USS Cubera, v and USS Pawcatuck were there for recovery efforts as well as being on a training mission. However, there is no other evidence to support this. In addition he contradicts himself later in his handbook. Covers should be considered commemorative only.
iv ) the USNS Vanguard had a dual role, firstly as a tracking ship and then it was moved to a different
position and acted as a Secondary Recovery Ship. Hence, two quite different cachets exist
v ) The only Beck printed cover known with a USS Nicholas postmark is a B757 cover which was intended for the USS Cochrane
vi ) Unlike this example, most Arneb postmarks for this mission are poor.

Notes Other:
1) From the collection of Lee Kok How
2) From collection of Eddie Bizub - It has a Navy cachet on the back - Only two such covers have been reported
3) From the collection of Steve Durst
4) From the collection of Tom Steiner
5) Sold on eBay during 2010  a) 2012 b) 2013 c) 2014 d) 2016 e) 2018 f) 2022
6) Sold in Space Unit Auction #100
7) From the collection of Gerard Zonneveld
8) From the collection of Joseph Volutza

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 3 March 2024