USS Noa (DD-343/ APD-24)

USS Noa (DD-343) was a Clemson class destroyer that was converted into a high speed transport and took part in a series of amphibious landings in the South Pacific, before being rammed and sunk by another US warship on her way to the Palau Islands.

USS Noa (DD-343) in 1921 USS Noa (DD-343) in 1921

The Noa was named after Loveman Noa, a US sailor who was killed by Philippino rebels on Samar on 26 October 1901.

The Noa was laid down by the Norfolk Navy Yard on 18 November 1918, launched on 28 June 1919 when she was sponsored by Noa’s sister Mrs Albert Morehead and commissioned on 15 February 1921. After her shakedown cruise she was briefly based at Charleston, but in late May 1922 she departed for the Asiatic Station, heading east via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Aden and Ceylon. She reached Singapore on 14 August and her new base at Cavite in the Philippines on 30 September 1922. She remained in the Far East for the next seven years.

During her time in the Far East she split most of her time between the Philippines and Chinese waters, where the US Navy was involved in efforts to protect American interests during the Chinese Civil War.

In September 1923 she was part of a fleet of US warships that took part in the relief effort after the massive earthquake that hit Tokyo and Yokohama.

On 11 December 1923 the Noa was part of a flotilla of destroyers that left the Philippines heading for Canton, as part of a wider international naval demonstration aimed at preventing a takeover of the Chinese Maritime Customs at Canton. This service had been set up in 1854 by the foreign consuls at Shanghai, and was largely run by foreigners, but its revenue went to the Chinese central government. After this demonstration the service survived, and provided its service to the new Chinese Nationalist government. It only finally disappeared after the Communist takeover.  

USS Noa (DD-343) at Shanghai, 1927 USS Noa (DD-343) at Shanghai, 1927

The Noa was briefly involved in controversy when she put into a Chinese port to refuel  in 1924 and the British oil company demanded cash payment!

Anyone from her who landed at Shanghai between 25 July and 10 August 1925 qualified to the China Expeditionary Medal.

At the start of September 1925 the Nao helped refloat the Chinese steamer Fei-Ching near the Chusan Islands. On the way back to Shanghai she suffered a boiler explosion which killed four of her crew.

On 24 March 1927 the Noa and William B. Preston (DD-344) put a landing party ashore to protect refugees at the Ameican consulate in Nanking, while the destroyer took part in the bombardment of the Kuomintang troops who had just occupied the city, and who had attacked the British, American and Japanese consulates. The Americans then cooperated with the British to put together a 250 strong landing party to protect refugees escaping from the Nationalists, rescuing one group from Socony Hill.

She was at Shanghai for Independence Day, 4 July 1927. In August she came under fire while escorting merchant ships on the Tangtze.

Anyone who was onboard from 31 January-2 February, 24 February-1 June or 4 July-27 August 1927 qualified for the Yangtze Service Medal.

The Noa returned to the US on 14 August 1929 and underwent an overhaul at Mare Island before joining the Battle Fleet. In the autumn and winter of 1929 she served as a plane guard for the Langley (CV-1) and Saratoga (CV-3). She took part in the Fleet Problems of 1930 to 1934, which brought together the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. From 17 June-8 July 1934 she carried out a cruise with the NROTC students from the University of California at Berkeley. She then steamed east to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 11 November 1934.

1940-42

The Noa was recommissioned on 1 April 1940 as part of the efforts to expand the US Fleet after the outbreak of war in Europe. She was modified so she could carry a seaplane, which replaced the the aft torpedo tubes. The boom for lifting her in and out of the water replaced the mainmast. She carried out tests using a Curtis XSOC-1 seaplane off the Delaware Capes in May. The aircraft had to be lowered onto the sea while the ship was stationary, but could be lifted back onboard while she was underway. On 15 May her pilot, Lt. G. L. Heap, flew a sick man to the Naval Hospital at Philadelphia. The results of these tests impressed the Secretary of the Navy, and he ordered that six of the new Fletcher class destroyers (DD-476 to DD-481) should be able to handle aircraft. However some of the hoisting equipment failed to live up to expectations and the program was cancelled early in 1943. 

As a result she gained a new insignia, of a winged spinach can, produced in a number of variants, including one with Popeye at the controls.

Insigia of USS Noa (DD-343) Insigia of USS Noa (DD-343)

During the rest of 1940 and most of 1941 the Noa spent much of her time on experimental duties or midshipman training cruises from Annapolis.

In September 1940 she was part of the Key West Neutrality Patrol.

On 16-17 December 1941 she acted as a plane guard for the new carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), in Chesapeake Bay. On 17 December the Noa believed she had detected a submarine, and dropped two depth charges, but without any result.

On 27 December the Noa and Hornet departed from Hampton Roads (with the North Carolina (BB-55) and Washington (DD-56) and their escort, heading for the Dry Tortugas (a ground of islands to the west of the tip of the Florida Keys) for shakedown training. Once in the area the Noa and Hornet operated independently of the other ships. On 31 December the Noa rescued Lt William Hilands, after his SBC-4 crashed while attempting to land on the Hornet. She was also sent to investigate an unidentified sailing ship that was sighted near the carrier. After this mission she set off for the Hampton Roads, but a large wave carried away part of her bridge, a reminder of how flimsy the early destroyers could be, and she was forced into Charleston, South Carolina, for emergency repairs.

On 27 March 1942 U-123 torpedoed and sank the American ‘Q-Ship’ Atik, three days out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Noa was sent to try and find her, and did eventually find the wreckage, but there were no survivors.

On 9 June 1942 she was called out to sea to take part in the hunt for a possible submarine that had been reported by SS Lake Ormoc in the waters off Florida. A series of warships were fed into the search, but and one even dropped depth charges, but eventually the ‘target’ was judged to have been a tidal rip in the Gulf Stream

1943

After repairs at Boston she began a period of anti-submarine warfare patrols along the Atlantic Coast, beginning on 25 May 1943. She then moved to Key West, where she supported the training program at the Sound School, and carried out a mix of training, patrol, rescue and convoy escort duties.

On 31 July 1943 the Noa was assigned to the Sixth Amphibious Forces. In August-September she was converted into a high speed transport at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and was redesignated as APD-24 on 10 August 1943. After her shakedown cruise she left Norfolk on 18 October to escort the Sumter (APA-52) to San Diego. Shen then moved west, reaching Pearl Harbor on 10 November. From 19 November-4 December she escorted the SS J.H. Kincaid to Espiritu Santo.

The Noa reached Pearl Harbor on 10 November, then departed on 19 November to escort the SS J.H. Kincaid to Espiriu Santo, arriving on 4 December. She then moved to Buna, New Guinea, where from 11 December she served as the landing craft control ship on the stretch of coast between Buna and Cape Cretin. This duty lasted until 21 December when she moved to Cape Sudest.

On 25 December she set off for Cape Gloucester on New Britain, arriving just before dawn on 26 December, D-Day for the Allied landings at the Cape. She was used to land 144 officers and men from the First Marine Division. She then returned to Cape Sudest to pick up another 203 men from the division, who were landed at Cape Gloucester on 29 December.

1944

Operations around Cape Gloucester occupied the Noa into 1944. She then took place in the invasion of the Green Islands, to the north-east of Bougainville and north-east of New Britain.

From 21 February-7 March the Noa carried out patrol and escort operations in the Purvis Bay area of the Solomon Islands, which by this point was a major US naval base.

The Noa then picked up troops from the Fourth Marine Division, which she landed during the invasion of Emerau Island on 23 March.

By 8 April she was back at Cape Cretin on New Guinea, where she picked up troops that were to take part in the invasion of Hollandia, further west along the coast.

On 11 May she departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 23 May, where she picked up troops of the Second Marine Division. She arrived in her patrol area off Saipan on 15 June, shooting down one Japanese aircraft later in the day. On 16 June she landed her troops on Saipan. She patrolled off Siapan on 24 June when she departed for Eniwetok. On 30 June she departed from Eniwetok as the escort for USS Clamp (ARS-33), arriving on 4 July.

After a spell on patrol duty between Tinian and Saipan, she took part in the invasion of Guam (12 July-15 August), operating as part of the screen. She was back at Guadalcanal on 16 August, and resumed duties in Purvis Bay.

On 6 September she departed from Purvis Bay heading for the Palau Islands, where she was to support underwater demolition teams. Howver at 0350 on 12 September, while still on her way, she was rammed by the Fullman (DD-474). She immediately began to take on water, but only slowly. It was over an hour before the order to abandon ship was given, at 0501. However she still didn’t sink, and at 0700 her commander, Lt Commander Wallace Boud, came back on board with a salvage party. Despite several hours of work she couldn’t be saved. The order to abandon ship was given again at 10.30 and she sank at 10.34. The entire crew survived the experience. 

The Noa received seven battle stars for the Second World War, for operations at Cape Gloucester, the Green Islands, Saidor, Saipan, Guam, southern Palau and Hollandia. She also received the Yangtze Service Medal.

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

28 June 1919

Commissioned

15 February 1921

Sank after being rammed

12 September 1944

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 June 2021), USS Noa (DD-343/ APD-24) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Noa_DD343.html

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