By: Bob Pearson
the 1930s the large cruiser with heavy guns was in vogue among the navies
of the world, and the United States was no exception. To counter a reported
Japanese super-cruiser they came up with the six ships of the Alaska class.
These were to be as large as a battleship, have slightly lighter armament
than contemporary battleships, and a cruiser's speed. The rationale was they
could sink anything smaller, and run away from anything bigger. At the time
they were built, the threat of the Japanese ships was shown to be non-existant,
and the only two ships completed (Alaska and Guam), were to be used as escorts
for the fast aircraft carriers and foreshore bombardment. Both were very expensive
to run, and shortly after the end of WWII both were laid up in reserve and
eventually scrapped without returning to active service.
USS Alaska was laid down on 16 December 1941, launched 15 August 1943 and commissioned 17 June 1944. She joined the Pacific fleet in January 1945 and spent the next seven months supporting the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, attacking enemy shipping in the East China Sea and participating in operations against the Japanese home islands. She returned to the US in December 1945, paid off on 17 February 1947 and was sold for scrap in July 1961.
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