Apollo 10 (AS-505) - 26 May 1969

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
USS Chilton SRS - Amphibious Transport LPA-38 Y
USS Ozark SRS - Mine Countermeasures Support Ship MCS-2 Y
USS Rich SRS - Destroyer DD-820 Y
USS Salinan SRS - Fleet Ocean Tug AFT-161 Y
USNS Vanguardi SRS - Tracking Ship (Dual Role) T-AGM-19 U/K
USS Princeton PRS - Carrier LPH-5 Y
USS Arlington SRS - Communications Relay Ship AGMR-2 Y
USS Carpenter SRS - Destroyer DD-825 Y
USS Chipola SRS - Oiler AO-63 Y
Tracking & Communication Ships
USNS Redstone TS - Pacific (approx. 15S and 155E) T-AGM 20 Y
USNS Huntsville TS - Pacific (approx. 15S and 75W) T-AGM 7 Y
USNS Vanguardi TS - Atlantic (approx. 25N and 45W) T-AGM 19 Y
USNS Mercuryii TS - Pacific (approx. 35N and 135E) T-AGM 21 Y
Not Involved
USS York Countyv Initially assigned but later deleted from mission LST-1175 N
USS Paiute Fleet Ocean Tug ATF-159 Y
USS Albany6 Guided Missile Cruiser CG-10 Y
USNS Range Tracker Tracking Ship T-AGM 1 Y
USNS Sunnyvale Tracking Ship T-AGM 5 Y
USNS Wheeling2 Tracking Ship T-AGM 8 Y
Recovery Control Centers
Norfolk Naval Air Station Atlantic Recovery Control Center N/A Y
Kunia HI Pacific Recovery Control Center N/A Y (scarce)

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Princeton  Machine Cancel Common
USS Princeton1 Hand Cancel -Another with a clean hand cancel5,vi Extremely Rareiii
USNS Mercuryii Postmarked in San Francisco Common
USNS Mercuryii Postmarked in Honolulu Common
USNS Mercury2 Postmarked 26 May in NSW Australia probably Sydney - marked 18 May -
USNS Mercury Postmarked 26 May in Sydney NSW Australia- marked 24 May -
USNS Mercury8 Postmarked in Cleveland on 30 May -
Norfolk Naval Air Station TF-140 Emblem - Blue Hard to Find
Norfolk TF-140 Emblem - Black Common
USNS Redstone Cover forwarded to ship whilst in Australian waters and postmarked at Glenelg, Australia 20 Sept 69 - text exists both in black and purple -
USNS Redstone Postmarked in Honolulu with machjine cancel Common
USNS Redstone2 Postmarked in Honolulu with both hand cancel and machine cancel Uncommon

Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Navy Recovery Force Cachet

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Command Module with Lunar Lander attached

 Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
Navy Recovery Force Cachet

Designed by Morris Beck it shows an Apollo Command Module with Lunar Lander attached

 Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
Beck Cachet - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachet Dark/Light Orange Printed
Beck Cachet - Pacific Similar to Navy Cachet Dark/Light Green Printed
TF-140 Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force TF-140 Emblem Black Rubber Stamp
Artopages Artopages cachet. See also this one. Orange & Purple Printed
Orbit Cachet Orbit  cachet with a maroon Navy cachet on top Green Printed
Ekas Cachet?
Seapower Controls the Land Cachet - Atlantic Maroon Rubber Stamp
Ekas Cachet?
Seapower Controls the Land Cachet - Pacific Maroon Rubber Stamp

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers


Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Chilton Maroon B792, B797, B798
USS Ozark Black B791
USS Rich Maroon, Black B793
USS Princeton Maroon, Black5 B787
USS Arlington Maroon B790
USS Carpenter Maroon B796
USS Chipola Maroon B788, B789

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Princeton USS Princeton postmark on an Apollo 8 FDC Multicolour Printed
USS Princeton Navy Cachet with 1c Postage Due Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Princeton3 Unusual cachet shows the moon plus description Black Printed
USS Princeton3 Incorrect US Navy Atlantic cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Princeton3 Commander's Corner Card Black Rubber Stamp
USS Princetoniv,5 A very special cover which not only has a clean hand cancel but also includes a black cachet - the only one seen Black Rubber Stamp
USS Princeton4b Unusual QSL Ham Radio Card Multicolour Printed
USS Princeton8 Interesting cover from a member of the Associated Press Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Arlington Ship's Cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Arlington Beck B790 with stamps cancelled without any designation - possibly the USS Arlington Bi-colour Printed
USS Carpenter Ship's Cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Chilton Great cover with a Navy cachet on a Dept. of the Navy envelope with a Commanding Officer Corner Card. Thus no stamp required. Dated 10 days before the mission with a USS Chilton NY postmark. And an airmail version. Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Chilton/USNS Range Recoverer USNS Range Recoverer cachet with a USS Chilton postmark and a Navy cachet on the back Black/Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Rich TF-140 Cachet Black Rubber Stamp
Space Unit Cachet Found with various SRS postmarks including the USS Chilton, USS Ozark and the USS Rich Blue Printed
USS Chipola Navy cachet on a multicolour mission emblem Maroon / Multicolour Rubber Stamp / Printed
USS Chipola Unusual postmark on a Beck B790 cover Light/Dark Green Printed
Chicago Navy cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USNS Mercury7 Cover with USNS Mercury Apollo X support cachet and attached interesting note Blue Rubber Stamp
Norfolk4c TF-140 cachet on cover with a GB stamp - Another example9. Blue Rubber Stamp

Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date

USS Princeton

PRS Cover signed by the recovery heli pilot Charles Smiley 26 May 1969

USS Princeton

PRS Cover signed by the Commander Carl M Cruse 26 May 1969

USS Princeton

Signed by the Commanding Officer plus the main Recovery helicopter pilot & co-pilot 26 May 1969
USS Princeton Great cover signed by various members of the Recovery team. See associated letter signed by Recovery helicopter pilot Smiley 26 May 1969
USS Princeton Cover signed by Stafford, Air Boss & Co-pilot 26 May 1969
USS Princeton Cover signed by three frogmen 26 May 1969

USS Princeton4

Wonderful PRS Cover signed by recovery and photo heli crew members 26 May 1969

USS Princeton4

PRS Cover signed by various recovery heli crew members 26 May 1969

USS Princeton4a

Main Helicopter Recovery cover signed by the pilot 26 May 1969

Notes General:
i) 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.
ii) USNS Mercury cachets exist marked 18 May 1969 and 24 May 1969
iii) Several covers with hand cancels have now been reported. Two of the three covers reported with the hand cancel also had a partial or very poor machine cancel. It appears that the Postal Clerk applied the hand cancels because of the problem with the machine cancel.
iv) Only one cover has been seen with a black cachet. It also has the extremely rare hand cancel making it a most desirable item.
v) The USS York County was initially assigned to the mission and was involved in a number of training missions. However, the ship was deleted from the mission due to a reduction in the areas required for launch retrieval support. Source: Dept. of the Navy, MSRF Atlantic, TF140 Report Ser 188, 6 June 1969
vi) An enlisted sailor named Howard Korth brought 50 number 10 envelopes to the postal unit on board the ship. His were cancelled with the larger Hand Cancel. Information from David Ball.

Notes Other: 
1) From the collection of Eddie Bizub
2) From the collection of Luc Jallot
3) From the collection of Tom Steiner
4) Sold on eBay during 2010 a) 2014 b) 2015 c) 2022
5) From the collection of David Ball
6) From the collection of Garry Bock
7) Scan provided by Robert Fish of the USS Hornet Museum
8) From the collection of  Joseph Volutza
9) From the collection of Eugenio Vespiano

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 14 September 2023