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  Space Cover 260: USS Algol and Apollo 9

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 260: USS Algol and Apollo 9

Posts: 551
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 04-05-2014 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 260 (April 6, 2014)

Space Cover #260: USS Algol and Apollo 9

Normally when thinking of space recovery ship cover collecting the splashdown date is the date that comes to mind but the launch date and even earlier dates are just as important to collect. A perfect example of this is the Apollo 9 mission and the role of the USS Algol.

If you look at your collection of recovery ship covers you are likely to find covers dated for March 13, 1969 which is the date the Apollo 9 command module splashed down and was recovered by the USS Guadalcanal and supported by the secondary recovery ship USS Algol. Now more of the story...

Preparation for the recovery of the Apollo 9 astronauts and space craft would include the training for and simulation of recovery operations by the ships and aircraft assigned to the task force. This training began in January of 1969 and included the USS Guadalcanal, USS Algol and USS Chilton. The USNS Vanguard training started in early February.

Naval Task Force 140, the Atlantic task force to recover space craft, was activated for Apollo 9 on February 16th. Training would continue through the end of February.

The top cover from the USS Algol is during such a training period. The USS Algol and the USS Guadalcanal each performed recovery simulations with the Recovery Control Center Atlantic (Norfolk, Virginia) between February 26 and 29th.

On the launch day for Apollo 9 the ships of Task Force 140 were on station in case of a launch abort. The USS Paiute was the Launch Site Area Sea Salvage ship, the USS Guadalcanal was at Station 1 Recovery Group (ship and aircraft), the USNS Vanguard was at Station 2 Recovery Group and the USS Algol was at Station 3 Recovery Group. Among the many other units involved in the recovery effort were the Recovery Control Center Atlantic in Norfolk, Recovery Control Center in Ramstein Germany, and multiple Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadrons (e.g. Patrick AFB; Lajes Field, Azores; Ascension Island). The bottom cover is from the USS Algol on launch day. Covers for many of the other support units can be found as well.

So be on the lookout for the "not recovery date" covers for your collection...


Posts: 2084
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 01-29-2016 06:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps I can add a little to the involvement of the USS Algol with the Apollo 9 mission.

In January 1969, she conducted two training exercises at Little Creek, Va. in retrieving an Apollo command module with UDT-22 (Underwater Demolition Team) personnel who were deployed from the boat. On 14th February she completed loading of Apollo recovery equipment before setting off to her designated abort recovery station on 17th February. This is referred to as Station 3.

By the 26th, the Algol was in position to conduct a SIMEX (simulation exercise) with RCCA (Recovery Control Centre Atlantic) and ARRS aircraft. Three days later she carried out what is referred to as an 'in house' SIMEX. The report records this as happening on the 29th February in what is clearly a typing error.

On 3rd March, some 60 seven minutes before Apollo 9 left the pad at the Kennedy Space Center, the Algol reported a surface contact within 50 miles and 12 minutes after lift-off she was released from her launch abort station to cover what is referred to as TP 13-2A. The Algol on was finally released from ship Station 3 on 12th March.

In these manoeuvres the Algol steamed some 1650 miles to cover twenty two target points. The weather throughout this time was poor with high winds and seas as a result of a chain of low pressure cells and frontal passages moving slowly across the Atlantic. This is confirmed by a crew member who recalls that the weather was just as bad and he remembers seas being between 20 to 25 feet with winds of 50 mph. He says also that the ship was being tossed about quite a bit.

All times are CT (US)

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