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  Space Cover 237: Skylab Prime Recovery Ships

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 237: Skylab Prime Recovery Ships
Bob M

Posts: 1385
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-26-2013 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 237 (October 27, 2013)

Space Cover #237: Skylab Prime Recovery Ships

For (perhaps) the final installment in our Skylab tribute series, this week will be devoted to the US Navy prime recovery ships that recovered the Skylab-1 (SL-2), Skylab-2 (SL-3), and Skylab-3 (SL-4) spacecraft and crews.

Only two US Navy aircraft carriers served as primary recovery ships in the Pacific Ocean recovery area for the three manned Skylab missions. And few other ships served as Seconday Recovery Ships. The USS Ticonderoga recovered the SL-2 crew on June 22, 1973, while the USS New Orleans recovered the SL-3 crew on September 25, 1973 and then recovered the SL-4 crew on February 8, 1974. Then on July 24, 1975, for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the US New Orleans was again the prime recovery ship and carried out the 31st and final US Navy ocean recovery of a manned spacecraft and crew in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab Programs.

Covers from the three Skylab Prime Recovery Ships for all three recoveries are in good supply. Shown above are crew signed covers for all three Skylab recoveries with Morris Beck-supplied USN rubber stamp cachets.

The top cover is a popular Beck printed cacheted cover for the SL-3 recovery and is autographed by Rear Admiral Richard A. Gordon, the head of Skylab Manned Space Operations. The middle cover is an unusual double canceled cover for SL-3, first canceled at KSC for the SL-3 launch, then sent to the USS New Orleans and canceled and cacheted for the SL-3 recovery. The final cover is autographed by the SL-4 crew and was canceled at Ellington AFB, TX on the occasion of the SL-4 crew's triumphant return to Houston at the conclusion of both their 84-day mission and the Skylab Program. Then perhaps as a final closing event in the highly successful Skylab manned space station Program, recovery ship USS New Orleans returned to port on February 20, 1974.

Perhaps soon we'll present another SCOTW feature on Skylab First Day Covers (FDCs) and also maybe a few covers pertaining to the final day in orbit of the Skylab Orbital Workshop.


Posts: 181
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-26-2013 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In seeing Bob's primary recovery ship Skylab mission covers, I thought these two additional covers for the Skylab 3 recovery by USS New Orleans, LPH-11, would be important to see. The top cover is the usual crew patch cover for Skylab 3 but also has a USNS Vanguard rubber stamped cachet as well. The Vanguard was a smaller ship and did not have its own post office unlike USS New Orleans.

The second cover pictured above is a difficult to find Reuben Ramkissoon primary recovery ship cover for Skylab 3 and PRS USS New Orleans. The cover also has a rubber stamped cachet for the SL-3 mission. This large number 10 PRS cover is missing from most primary recovery ship collections.

In this pair, the top cover has a rubber stamped cachet on the USS New Orleans cover for the Skylab 4 mission recovery similar to Bob's cover at the top of this page, but the cover surprisingly also has an orange patch of material taken from the floatation collar of the UDT lily pad, that was attached to the SL-4 spacecraft so the crew could exit it. The patch has been added to the cover and then rubber stamped with application of the magenta cachet, and hand canceled as part of the cover. The addition of the orange patch from the floatation collar involved in the crew's recovery as part of the cover, makes this a very desirable PRS cover to add to a recovery ship collection.

The last cover shown in my addition to Bob's primary recovery ship article is a Reuben Ramkissoon oversized number 10 PRS cover for the final recovery of the Skylab series, Skylab 4, made by recovery ship USS New Orleans. As commented above in the Ramkissoon cover for Skylab 3, the covers are very difficult to find and may have been limited to distribution only on the ship in a very small number of covers. Note, in both covers, the crew patch covers have been augmented to include also the name of the primary recovery ship, USS New Orleans, the ship's hull number, LPH-11, and ship's motto, "The Enforcers."

All times are CT (US)

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