The collection's correspondence consists mainly of orders, reports, and requests for leave. Of particular interest are Ball's description of a fire that destroyed transport USS
LAFAYETTE (AP-53) while docked in New York (February 10, 1942); details of base life in Panama and the Panama Canal Zone (June 1, 1948 - May 24, 1949), and a detailed account of the water tending and re-supply duties of the self-propelled dredge
YW-114 on a mission out of Cuba (November 24, 1962). Correspondence written while in Cuba after the Cuban Missile Crisis mentions the possibility of lifting the quarantine on American families, reopening base schools at Guantanamo Bay, and the return of families (November 27, 1962, December 2 & 26, 1962). Life on base in Key West (January 25, April 10, 1968) is also described in the correspondence.
Naval war training operations are discussed in the correspondence and include two war games that resulted in casualties. Detailed are the deaths of two men who fell off the deck of the submarine USS
PICUDA (SS-382) in the open sea during Operation Quick Pursuit (April 18, 1967). Further correspondence deals with poor training and job quality, inadequate safety precautions, laxness of submarine commanders in avoiding detection, and the actions of the
PICUDA' s captain during Quick Pursuit (May 11, 1967, February 28, 1968). Also mentioned are the grounding of the nuclear submarine USS
SEAWOLF (SSN-575), and the loss of the Israeli submarine
DAKAR and the French submarine
MINERVA during Operation Springboard (February 1, 5 1968). The loss with all hands of the nuclear submarines USS
THRESHER (SSN-593) and USS
SCORPION (SSN-589) are also discussed (April 12, 1963, March 2, 1967, May 27, 1968). Other training exercises referred to are Portex and Caribex (March 15, 1950), the joint US/Spanish war game Poopdeck 2-67, and the joint US/French war game Fairgame V (May 24, 1967).
Other correspondence addresses discipline and the growing disregard of submarine commanders for enforcing safety procedures, observations of the periscopes of several submarines during maneuvers, poor mess hall procedures, and the lack of command discipline (March 2, 1967). Also discussed are the construction of nuclear submarines USS
TAUTOG (SSN-639) and USS
HADDOCK (SSN-621), describing problems, needs, status reports, personnel assignments, and sea trials (January-December 1967; March 13, 1968); the military trials of three seamen from submarine USS
SEACAT (SS- 399) caught with marijuana and the dangers of marijuana street peddling (August 10, September 27, 1967; January 22, 1968); and a meningitis outbreak (February 12, 1968) on board the submarine tender USS
HOWARD W. GILMORE (AS-16). A booklet attached to a letter (June 3, 1968) discusses the financial benefits to Panama from the United States presence in Panama and the Canal Zone. Miscellaneous items include a civilian account of daily naval maneuvers in the Caribbean, a 1958 report of a study by OPNAV/BUPERS Personnel Monitoring Group entitled "Desirability and Selection Criterior for Early Promotion of Naval Officers," photographs (mostly Naval personnel shots), speeches and briefs given to various crews, several issues of publications from the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (1960), and a Boy Scout handbook for the Panama area.
See also George Ball Oral History #139.