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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Noma

 

A former name retained.

 

(SP–131: dp. 1,250; l. 262’6”; b. 28’6”; dr. 15’6”; s. 19 k.; cpl. 80; a. 4 3”, 4 mg)

 

Noma (SP–131) a steam yacht, was built in 1902 by the Burlee Dry Dock Co., Staten Island, New York; was acquired by the Navy from Vincent Astor; commissioned 10 May 1917, Lt. Comdr. Lamar Richard Leahy in command.

 

At the outbreak of World War I Noma was ordered to France as the flagship of Capt. William B. Fletcher, Commander U.S. Patrol Squadrons operating in european waters. She sailed from New York 9 June 1917 accompanied by five other ships of her squadron: Christabel, Harvard, Kanawha II, Sultana, and Vedette. Upon arriving at Brest 4 July, Noma immediately commenced operating in the submarine danger zone, convoying troop transports and cargo vessels. While patrolling off Cape Finisterre 20 July, she sighted a German U-boat running awash and boldly attacked it. On 25 July Noma escorted a large American convoy from Belle Isle to the Loire.

 

Noma next encountered a German submarine when she went to the aid of British “Q-Ship” Dunraven 8 August. At the time the vessel was being shelled and torpedoed by the enemy submarine. Dunraven’s commanding officer, Capt. Gordon Campbell, RN, credited Noma’s arrival and prompt depth charge attack with saving his ship. Noma stood by Dunraven until two British destroyers arrived, and she took off several wounded sailors.

 

Noma came upon a large German U-boat recharging her batteries 16 August and engaged her in a vigorous gun duel until the U-boat submerged. She next sighted a medium-sized German submarine watching for convoys close in shore 17 September, and in a dawn attack, straddled it with many salvos.

 

While escorting store ships Koln and Medina, westbound for France 28 November, Noma in company with Wakiva II engaged two German submarines. Noma tenaciously depth charged her contact while Wakiva II seriously damaged the other U-boat. Noma and Wakiva II were commended for distinguished service by both Radm. Henry B. Wilson and Adm. William S. Sims. Lt. Comdr. Leahy was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the battle.

 

Noma continued to screen convoys in 1918, and escorted Madawaska to St. Nazaire 25 January. She later accompanied a convoy of 13 merchant ships westbound for the U.S. and returned 21 May with a group of 8 ships bound for La Pallice. Noma’s last combat with German submarines occurred 15 August when two ships of her eastbound convoy HB–8, Westbridge and Montana, were sunk.

 

After the war Noma was temporarily stationed at Plymouth, England until she was transferred to U.S. Forces based at Constantinople in early 1919. She passed Gibraltar 26 January; stopped at Taranto and Malta; and arrived Constantinople 13 February, bringing with her members of the American Relief Commission. Once at Constantinople her duties involved carrying commission members to Constanta, Rumania 9–14 March; to Varna, Bulgaria 3–6 April, and to Batum, Russia 21 April–1 May. Noma also removed American gold funds from Varna and took on board U.S. Army personnel at all three ports.

 

Noma departed Constantinople for the U.S. 21 May and was returned to her owner at New York 15 July 1919.