The USS Noa was a Gearing-class destroyer in service with the United States Navy from 1945 until 1973 and in service with the Spanish Navy from 1978 until 1991. She was named for Midshipman David Noa, who was killed in action during an insurrection in the Philippines in 1901.
Noa was laid down at the Bath Ironworks Shipyard in Bath, Maine in March of 1945. She was launched only four months later and commissioned in October of that year.
The Gearing-class destroyer was of the same general design as the earlier Fletcher and Sumner classes. It was however larger, faster, more maneuverable, more heavily armed and had a greater range. Noa was over 390 feet from stem to stern with a beam of 41 feet and had a displacement of over 3500 tons under a full load.
Her engines consisted of two Babcock & Wilcox boilers powering two geared turbines that were built either by General Electric or Westinghouse. During peacetime operations, she had a crew compliment of 336 officers and seamen.
Following her shakedown trials off the coast of Cuba, Noa was stationed out of Norfolk, Virginia. Her first years were spent alternating Mediterranean deployments with local operations off the East Coast of the US. In 1953, she was sent to NB Sasebo (Japan) for peacekeeping duties in and around Korea in the wake of that conflict.
Noa returned to Norfolk in April 1954 and was assigned to anti-submarine patrols in the Atlantic. Noa underwent a major overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from mid-November 1954 until the summer of 1955, during which she was outfitted with experimental sonar equipment. Another overhaul took place at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard during the summer of 1957.
In the late 1950s, Noa was sent to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf twice, then underwent her Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization (FRAM I) overhaul, during which modern antisubmarine weaponry was installed. During the remainder of the 1960s, Noa operated out of Norfolk, sailing to Europe and in the Caribbean. Twice during this period, she served with recovery teams for space missions (Mercury I in 1961 and Gemini VI in 1965).
The destroyer underwent another overhaul at the Boston Naval Shipyard from September 1964 until January 1965. She returned for more scheduled maintenance during the first half of 1968. She ended the decade as a sonar training vessel out of Mayport, Florida. In 1969, Noa underwent boiler repairs at Jacksonville, Florida.
Her last years with the U.S. Navy were spent in the Pacific. She was decommissioned in October 1973; five years later, she was transferred to the Spanish Navy, where she served as the SPS Blas de Lezo (D65) until she was scrapped in 1991.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Noa (DD-841)
The Noa, like all Navy ships of this era, is known to have used asbestos insulation and fireproofing. The boilers, pumps and engines had the highest concentration of asbestos parts, but no compartment aboard Noa was completely safe from the mineral. Sailors exposed to asbestos during their service have a chance to develop a number of serious illnesses, including mesothelioma.
The Noa’s frequent refits and overhauls present an additional hazard to sailors and civilian workers involved in those efforts. Removing existing asbestos insulation can cause individual fibers to tear away and contaminate the air. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is airborne and easily inhaled. The full threat posed by asbestos wasn’t realized until after Noa was decommissioned, so those performing her overhauls were likely inadequately protected from asbestos contamination.Sources
Destroyer History Foundation. "Gearing Class"
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).
N/A. "USS NOA (DD-841)"