Following shakedown out of Norfolk, Noa operated out of Charleston, S.C. Through May 1922 she participated in Atlantic Coast training maneuvers. In late May she sailed for duty on the Asiatic station, steaming via the Mediterranean and Aden and Ceylon. She reached Singapore 14 August and 30 September she arrived at her new home yard at Cavite, P.I. Through the summer of 1929 Noa remained active on the Asiatic station. She patrolled Chinese and Philippine waters and attempted to protect American interests during the raging Chinese Civil War, which was renewed November 1922. She also participated in the periodic fleet exercises which were designed to keep crew and equipment at peak efficiency.
Upon return to the United States 14 August 1929 Noa went into the Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul before assignment to West Coast operations. Through the next five years she operated out of San Diego as a unit of the Battle Fleet. During the fall and winter of 1929 Noa was called upon to assist in plane guard duties with carriers Langley (CV-1) and Saratoga (CV-3) off the California coast. She thus participated in the early development of carrier-group tactics. She also took part in the fleet exercises from 1930 to 1934. Noa served as cruise ship for NROTC students from the University of California, Berkeley 17 June–8 July 1934, steamed for Philadelphia, Pa. 14 August, decommissioned there 11 November, and was placed in reserve.
Noa recommissioned at Philadelphia 1 April 1940 and was fitted with a seaplane which nested just forward of the after deckhouse, replacing the after torpedo tubes. At the same time a boom for lifting the aircraft was stepped in place of the mainmast. She steamed for the Delaware Capes in May and conducted tests with an XSOC-1 seaplane piloted by Lt. G. L. Heap. The plane was hoisted onto the ocean for takeoff and then recovered by Noa while the ship was underway. Lt. Heap also made an emergency flight 15 May to transfer a sick man to the Naval Hospital at Philadelphia.
Such dramatic demonstrations convinced the Secretary of the Navy that destroyer-based scout planes had value, and 27 May he directed that six new destroyers of the soon-to-be-constructed Fletcher class (DD 476–481) be fitted with catapults and handling equipment. Because of mechanical deficiencies in the hoisting gear the program was cancelled early in 1943. The concept thus failed to mature as a combat technique, but the destroyer-observation seaplane team was to be revived under somewhat modified conditions during later amphibious operations.
Noa spent much of the next two years on experimental assignments and on midshipman training operations out of Annapolis. She underwent availability at Boston Navy Yard the first week of December 1941 and then participated in Chesapeake Bay exercises through 27 December. Next she steamed for Key West, Fla. and participated in shakedown of major fleet units in the Gulf of Mexico. After acting as plane and screen guard for carrier Hornet she steamed for Hampton Roads. Enroute a large wave carried away part of her bridge and she put in at Charleston, S.C. for emergency repairs.
She then steamed for Boston via Bermuda. Upon completion of repairs at Boston Navy Yard she was directed to conduct Atlantic coast ASW patrols commencing 25 March 1943. She also participated in the training program for the Navy’s Sound School at Key West. Until 28 July she operated out of Key West, assigned training, patrol, rescue, and convoy escort duties.
Noa reported to the Sixth Amphibious Forces 31 July. During August and September she was converted, at Norfolk Navy Yard, to a high speed transport and was reclassified APD-24 on 10 August 1943. Work was completed 17 September and after shakedown in the Chesapeake she departed Norfolk 18 October and escorted Sumter (APA–52) to San Diego via the Panama Canal, arriving 2 November.
Noa steamed for Pearl Harbor 4 November, arriving 10 November for a week of yard availability. Underway 19 November she escorted SS J. H. Kincaid to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides via Samoa, arriving 4 December. She departed 5 December and steamed to Buna, New Guinea where she assumed duty as landing craft control ship 11 December. In this capacity she steamed between Buns, and Cape Cretin New Guinea. She was detached from this duty and anchored off Cape Sudest 21 December.
She steamed for Cape Gloucester, New Britain 25 December and arrived just before dawn the next day. After a preliminary bombardment by naval and army air units, Noa landed 144 officers and men of the First Marine Division. She returned to Cape Sudest via Buna 27 December to take on 203 more First Division Marines, who reinforced the forces at Cape Gloucester 29 December. Her operations in the Cape Gloucester landings extended through 1 March 1944. Noa’s participation in the Bismarck Archipelago operation also took her through the Green Island landing 15–19 February.
In the Purvis Bay area of the Solomon Islands she performed patrol and escort operations 21 February–7 March. She next steamed to Tassafaronga Point, Guadalcanal and took on Fourth Marine Division troops for the Emirau Island assault of 23 March. By 8 April she was back at Cape Cretin, New Guinea, where she took on troops for the Hollandia amphibious operations that extended from late April through 1 May.
Noa steamed for Pearl Harbor 11 May, arrived 23 May, and embarked units of the Second Marine Division for transport to Saipan. She patrolled assigned areas off Saipan 15 June and that day splashed one raiding aircraft. The next day she landed her troops and continued patrol operations until 24 June, when she steamed to Eniwetok Atoll. Noa departed Eniwetok 30 June and escorted Clamp (ARS–33) to Saipan, arriving 4 July. She conducted patrol and screening operations off Tinian and Saipan through the next week. During the Guam operations of 12 July–15 August Noa served as a screening ship. By 16 August she had returned to Guadalcanal and the next day she commenced patrol operations out of Purvis Bay.
Departing Purvis Bay 6 September she steamed for the Palau Islands to conduct underwater demolition activities. While enroute she was rammed by Fullam (DD-474) at 0350, 12 September. She immediately began to settle. The order to abandon ship was given at 0501, but by 0700 Noa’s skipper, Lt. Comdr. H. Wallace Boud, USNR had returned to her with a salvage party. Salvage efforts failed, the second order to abandon ship was given at 1030, and the old ship sank by the stern at 1034 with no loss of life.
Noa received the Yangtze Service Medal for China service in 1927 and five battle stars for World War II service.
Sources: Clark, Curt, The Famed Green Dragons; Naval History & Heritage Command including Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.