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  Gemini 8: Recovery by rope ladder (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Gemini 8: Recovery by rope ladder
Lasv3
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posted 06-29-2009 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gemini 8 crew experienced something no other crew ever did - they had to climb the rope ladder to get onboard the recovery ship Mason after their emergency landing in Pacific. Does anybody know of - or owns - some photos of this unique "operation" - I mean crew climbing the ladder? There are photos of the crew sitting in the capsule with opened hatches, photos with pararescuers on the ship deck, but I wonder whether anybody took the picture of the climbing astronauts. If somebody has anything or knows where to find it I would appreciate the information very much.

ejectr
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posted 06-29-2009 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you are talking about a "Jacob's Ladder", that is not an easy task. You have to climb the rungs with the ladder facing you sideways and step on each wooden rung from the side with the edge of the foot so the ladder doesn't push out from under you. Can't see how they would have been able to do that with a space suit boot on. I've done it many times on the fantail of a carrier, but never a destroyer. It's scary!

Can't see why they would have had to use one on a destroyer. The freeboard isn't that high.

Lasv3
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posted 06-29-2009 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This information must be correct, I know about it from several sources, I name here two for references:
  • On the Shoulders of Titans, NASA SP-4203, page 319 (edition 1977) and

  • How NASA Learned to Fly in Space by David M.Harland, page 159.
Just I never saw any photo of the Gemini 8 crew struggling upwards the ladder and if such photo exists somewhere it is a big rarity I'd love to see.

ejectr
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posted 06-29-2009 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well they didn't have to struggle too far. As I said, the freeboard of a destroyer (main deck height to the water line) is only about 3 feet.

Thinking about it, it wouldn't have been such a hard task on a destroyer. For that distance, the ladder would have been very short, probably just thrown over the side and that would have allowed them to climb the couple of rungs straight on as you do a ladder. The side of the ship would have kept it from pushing out away from them.

Not like climbing to the yard arm off the fan tail of a carrier which is strung out in mid air and about 40 feet above the water line.

Obviousman
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posted 06-30-2009 01:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
3 feet? I've served on frigates, landing craft, patrol boats and destroyer escorts. Freeboard is more 8-10 feet.

ejectr
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posted 06-30-2009 05:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Obviousman:
3 feet? I've served on frigates, landing craft, patrol boats and destroyer escorts. Freeboard is more 8-10 feet.

I was stationed aboard a Fram 2 class Destroyer...U.S.S Harold J. Ellison DD864 of WWII vintage. The same class Destroyer that picked up Gemini 8. At amidships, you could kneel down and touch the water reaching over the side. The freeboard was really low. I too was on Patrol Boats and had more than one occassion to slip over the side into the water for various operations and it was no 8-10 feet. Believe me!

Take a look at the pictures of the U.S.S Noa hauling Friendship 7 aboard with the crane to the main deck passageway and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I don't know what period of time you were on the vessels you mentioned and I don't doubt your knowledge of those particular vessels. I wouldn't comment here if I didn't have the actual experience and know what I was talking about. That would be rather foolish.

Fra Mauro
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posted 06-30-2009 07:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The website atronautix.com says that a Jacob's Ladder was used and the crew had to climb 4-5 feet. Armstrong and Scott both mentioned it in their books. Armstrong says it was made of chain link.

ejectr
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posted 06-30-2009 08:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well there you go. Thanks.

Lasv3
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posted 06-30-2009 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And what about the photos?

It looks like if some were shot it was most probably by somebody from the Leonard Mason crew and the photos may rest in some box with family photos.

Another possibility would be somebody from the three USAF pararescuers who would have a good view from the flotation collar, but no one of them seems to have the camera and their upmost priority would be to assist the astronauts to get safely on the ship's deck anyway, so no time for pictures here. My preferred option is somebody from the sailors, if at all, or they (the pictures) simply do not exist as nobody had time and/or opportunity to take them.

Fra Mauro
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posted 07-01-2009 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Correction--as I was reminded by one of our fellow cs members, it was 4-5 meters not feet. Scott also noted that the seas were a bit rough, the nose of Gemini 8 was dented from hitting the side of the Mason.

ejectr
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posted 07-01-2009 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess I must have been on a low rider. The water line definitely was not 12-15 feet below the main deck.

Wish I still had the photo I had of the Ellison. The bow was certainly higher than the fantail, but the area where the crane was located was definitely not anywhere near 12-15 feet above the water.

Don't mean to be difficult, but that's my story and I have to stick with it because I lived it.

Andy McCulley
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posted 07-01-2009 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy McCulley   Click Here to Email Andy McCulley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a picture if it helps the discussion.

Lou Chinal
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posted 07-01-2009 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is that a photo of the U.S.S. Mason? Or one of her sister ships?

Andy McCulley
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posted 07-01-2009 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy McCulley   Click Here to Email Andy McCulley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Its from the U.S.S Harold J. Ellison website. Here's one for the Mason.

ejectr
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posted 07-01-2009 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's a picture of the new Mason, not the one that picked up Gemini 8. The photo of the Ellison is really old taken before they "Frammed" the ship.

They removed the upper forward gun mount and added the ASROC (Anti Submarine Rocket) launcher to the upper deck amidships. All the 40mm gun mounts and fire control directors for them were removed.

The area just forward of the aft gun mount is around the area of the crane. That area is not 15 feet above the water line.

A newer photo here as she would have looked when I was aboard and in 1962 when she took part in Carpenter's recovery fleet.

Andy McCulley
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posted 07-01-2009 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy McCulley   Click Here to Email Andy McCulley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not a Navy guy and am therefore not familiar with the ships and apologize for my ignorance of the topic.

But here is reported to be the Mason in Hong Kong on April 10, 1966.

ejectr
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posted 07-01-2009 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool...see the sailors standing back aft on the fan tail? Use them for scale and tell me the fantail area a little forward of the aft gun mount is 12-15 feet above the water line and I'll tell you to get a new tape measure.

The things that Armstrong and Scott did were more than heroic, but climbing a Jacobs ladder to that deck level was not one of them.

mjanovec
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posted 07-01-2009 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assuming the sailors in that photo are roughly 6 feet tall, I estimate the height of the deck above the waterline is roughly 8-10 feet. However, the actual height that Armstrong and Scott had to climb might be less...subtracting whatever height the Gemini capsule sat above the waterline.

Lasv3
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posted 07-02-2009 01:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never said the climbing the ladder was "heroic" - I said "unique" (see my first post), that's why I'd like to see some photos - this happened only once, in emergency, and never happened before nor after.

ejectr
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posted 07-02-2009 06:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry for hijacking your thread. I hope you get to see some photos as then we'll all see it wasn't as high a climb as the claims.

End of hijack.

Lasv3
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posted 07-02-2009 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No worries, everything's perfectly all right.

For me, actually, does not matter how many feet they had to climb, important is the uniqueness of this recovery. I am very interested in "rarities" and I try to have them documented if possible.

Another similar unique event was Al Shepard's recovery, also never repeated during the Mercury program (Grissom's was planned to be the same but failed - and was unique — Gus Grissom was the only astronaut ever to swim in the ocean before rescued by helicopter).

While Liberty Bell's failed recovery attempt is very well documented by both photos and film (excellently in Mark Gray's Mercury set), the Shepard's hoisting by the same helicopter which hooked his spacecraft is richly documented by the photographs, but I was not able to locate a film footage of this — with only one exception — there is an official US Information Agency short b/w movie on the Spacecraft Films' one-disc Freedom 7 set, but it's only few seconds long.

So if by looking for the GT-8 recovery photos somebody crosses over the Freedom 7 recovery operation movie (Shepard and capsule up from the ocean), I would appreciate this information as well.

LM-12
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posted 04-29-2013 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lasv3:
I never saw any photo of the Gemini 8 crew struggling upwards the ladder and if such photo exists somewhere it is a big rarity I'd love to see.
This British Pathe film clip contains footage of the Gemini 8 recovery. At 43 seconds there is a brief shot of one of the astronauts (looks like Armstrong) climbing onto the deck from the ladder.

David C
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posted 04-29-2013 08:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks LM-12, that was a real treat.

LM-12
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posted 04-29-2013 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Lasv3
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posted 04-30-2013 12:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks a lot LM-12, this is really great footage! One just wonders how many other never seen before photos and footage — not only from this flight — still exist somewhere hidden and forgotten...

Thanks again.

LM-12
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posted 04-30-2013 05:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sometimes you just can't beat that old black and white newsreel footage. It is always interesting to stumble onto footage or photos that you have never seen before, even after all these years.

Regarding your Freedom 7 inquiry, there is some MR-3 recovery footage starting at 9:43 into this second clip. It does show the capsule hooked up to helicopter 44 and Shepard being hauled aboard.

328KF
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posted 04-30-2013 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's some great footage. Interesting that at one point it looks like a boilerplate Gemini being hoisted aboard. And at 1:05 I looked as close as I could but that didn't look like a camouflaged watch strap Armstrong was wearing

Lasv3
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posted 04-30-2013 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, great footage of Shepard recovery, thanks!

And I am pretty sure it is a boilerplate Gemini being hoisted up during the recovery training of the USS Mason crew in the Gemini 8 clip. As USS Mason was part of the recovery forces — even in back-up areas — the boilerplate plus special crane was aboard and used for training.

The look of the real Gemini floating alongside the ship and then on the deck is visibly different.

What matters, however, is the part of the destroyer nearing the capsule in the water and crew egress which is here shown, I believe, for the first time.

Really great, I'm so glad to see it finally after so many years thanks to the LM-12 efforts.

LM-12
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posted 04-30-2013 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Interesting that at one point it looks like a boilerplate Gemini being hoisted aboard.
Yes, I did notice that also at 46 seconds into the clip. But it seems to switch back at 58 seconds to a brief shot of the real capsule on deck. Is that what you see?

Lasv3
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posted 04-30-2013 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, exactly. Several photos from the training with the Gemini boilerplate can be also found in the photographs section of the USS Mason webpage on Google. There is even one shot showing Armstrong (?) stepping from the spacecraft onto the ladder.

328KF
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posted 04-30-2013 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
But it seems to switch back at 58 seconds to a brief shot of the real capsule on deck. Is that what you see?
Yes that's what I was referring to. I was wondering if it just slipped in there somehow or if the crew, being on standby, had been practicing with the boilerplate and had to pick it up as well when they found out the real McCoy was unexpectedly headed their way.

LM-12
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posted 04-30-2013 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong went up the Jacob's ladder first, according to his First Man biography.

Headshot
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posted 05-01-2013 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If this movie collection contains training segments mixed in with real rescue footage, is it not possible that the "astronaut" climbing up the ladder is neither Armstrong nor Scott?

Perhaps it is a crewman in an old training suit. The USS Leonard F. Mason's crew would have had to train for various scenarios such as: the astronauts staying in Gemini until it was secured on deck; the astronauts exiting Gemini while next to the ship; getting a disabled astronaut on board from a life raft in the event Gemini sunk, etc.

I find it odd that the segment shows only one "astronaut" boarding the Mason and that boarding is incomplete. One would think that the movie taker, whether amateur or professional, would have gotten both, and showed them exiting the spacecraft as well. It is also odd that the just-rescued, now-famous astronauts, in space suits, were not extensively filmed on deck.

This is not to take away from the value of the footage. It shows the process of getting a Gemini crew and spacecraft aboard a non-prime recovery vessel.

Lasv3
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posted 05-01-2013 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the footage of the astronaut boarding the deck is from the Gemini 8 recovery and not from the training. I have one photo from the Google USS Mason pictures site showing probably Armstrong making the first step from the floating capsule onto the ladder. What is important the hatch window is clearly visible while the boilerplate did not have any windows. This is — for me — the prove of the real recovery material. I am very sorry but I am not skilled enough to put the photo on display here. What I do is I send it to Headshot's email and please, Headshot, put it to this thread if possible. This particular photo is not among the stills in the clip, must have been taken few seconds earlier.

And why the boilerplate hoisting has been used instead of the real Gemini 8? No idea, but it is quite common practice that the compilation of the materials from various flights is often used and presented in different missions they (the materials) do not belong to.

And I also believe the whole Gemini 8 recovery was filmed and photographed in full and the footage will hopefully appear somewhere sometime like this first piece we are discussing here.

LM-12
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posted 05-01-2013 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong and Scott were both wearing sunglasses sitting in the spacecraft awaiting recovery. In the still photo at 45 seconds linked above, that certainly looks like Armstrong to me, and he is wearing sunglasses.

Headshot
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posted 05-01-2013 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My previous comment was aimed mainly at the clip showing an astronaut climbing aboard the Mason. I certainly agree that the clips of Gemini, with the open hatches, do indeed show Armstrong and Scott.

The image I received from Lasv3 is very similar to the one LM-12 posted from the 45 second mark except that it shows the entire astronaut. It is a grainy image, but I believe that it is Neil Armstrong climbing up the ladder.

Lasv3
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posted 05-02-2013 02:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the photo: USS Leonard Foster Mason DD-852 to the rescue of Gemini VIII.

dtemple
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posted 05-03-2013 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice website. The last photo shows a Gemini boilerplate - not Gemini 8.

LM-12
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posted 05-04-2013 09:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an illustration of the splashdown location from the Gemini Program Mission Report. Armstrong and Scott boarded the destroyer about three hours after splashdown. The Rendezvous and Recovery (R&R) Section was found 100 yards from the spacecraft and was recovered.

LM-12
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posted 05-06-2013 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the post-flight technical debrief regarding crew egress:

ARMSTRONG: The egress was performed at the destroyer. We waited until the destroyer pulled up alongside the spacecraft, and the spacecraft was attached to the destroyer by means of lines. We egressed directly from the open hatch of the spacecraft to the Jacob's ladder. This was somewhat difficult because of the high sea state and the spacecraft was bobbing up and down alongside the destroyer, perhaps 10 to 15 feet, I would say, bumping along the side. The nose ring on the spacecraft was dented rather badly as a result of the contacts with the side of the destroyer. They could easily saved the chute, but due to a misunderstanding between the swimmers and the hoist operator they lost the main chute during the process of spacecraft recovery.

SCOTT: It got tangled up in the screws.

ARMSTRONG: Yes. I think it did.

FCSD REP: Did you both egress through your respective hatches?

SCOTT: No. I closed and locked mine and got out on his side.


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