At https://history.nasa.gov/afj/ap11fj/cm-107_graffiti.html, there is a picture of

CM-107, alias the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, aboard the recovery ship Hornet.

So, after splash-down, the capsule was taken aboard the recovery ship, which then set sail back to land. On the way, it might encounter rough seas or storms, so the capsule would have been lashed down to the deck.

Was any special consideration to this given in the design of the capsule? Did it have specific tie-down points? Or did the swabbies simply loop lines through whatever seemed convenient at the time?


3 Answers 3


Yes, securing the command module on the recovery ships was considered. Every recovery ship was given a practice command module, a cradle to hold the CM (instead of lashing it down), other equipment, and training:

Much special equipment was carried aboard secondary recovery ships to facilitate command module retrieval and handling. The major item on destroyers was a NASA-developed davit crane that incorporated a holdoff ring to stabilize the command module during pickup. A boilerplate command module was furnished to all secondary recovery ships so that retrieval training could be conducted while the ships were en route to assigned areas. In addition, a kit containing auxiliary retrieval equipment was provided. Included in the kit were such items as line threaders, threaders, poles, hooks, fending pads, and a cradle to support the boilerplate command module during training or the actual command module, if recovered.

Apollo Program Summary Report, p. 7-21

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ BTW, I do not know the difference between a threader and a line threader. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 3:55

As already mention, the USS Hornet as an Aircraft Carrier had plenty of room in its hangar deck.

Here on the picture shown, you can see how the command module was lashed on a special construction and how the crews quarataine was established ...

Apollo11 CM on Hornet


From a NASA page:

The recovery helicopter one by one retrieved the three astronauts from the raft using a Billy Pugh net, first Armstrong, then Collins and finally Aldrin. NASA flight surgeon Dr. William R. Carpentier was aboard the helicopter and gave them a brief medical evaluation. The helicopter flew to the Hornet, landing on its deck 63 minutes after splashdown. From there, sailors placed it on an elevator, took it below decks, and towed it toward the reception area near the prime Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) – a second MQF was held in reserve in case problems arose with the first, or in case any of the ship’s crew was inadvertently exposed to the astronauts or spacecraft. The three astronauts, Collins first, followed by Armstrong, Aldrin, and Dr. Carpentier, walked the ten steps from the helicopter to the MQF, amid the cheers of Hornet’s crew and assembled media. NASA engineer John K. Hirasaki was waiting inside the MQF and filmed the astronauts entering. The five of them remained inside the MQF until their arrival at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) at the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, two days later.

The recovery ship USS Hornet had elevators for the aircrafts and helicopters. So the Apollo CM could be moved under deck using the elevator to store the CM protected against rough seas or storms and high waves. The parachute mounting points could be used for tie down of the CM.

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Image from this page showing mockups of the capsules on board of the USS Hornet museum ship. So the hangar decks offered enough room to store a small CM and to protect it from rough weather on the flight deck.

enter image description here

The attachment points used for crane transport could also be used for lashing it down to the hangar deck.

Image from this page.


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