The Alaska class was a class of six large cruisers ordered before World War II for the United States Navy. They were officially classed as large cruisers, but others have regarded them as battlecruisers and they were all named after territories or insular areas of the United States, signifying their intermediate status between larger battleships and smaller heavy and light cruisers. Of the six planned, two were completed, the construction was suspended on 16 April 1947, and the last three were canceled. Alaska and Guam served with the U. S. Navy for the last year of World War II as bombardment ships and they were decommissioned in 1947 after spending only 32 and 29 months in service, respectively. The idea for a large cruiser class originated in the early 1930s when the U. S. Navy sought to counter Deutschland-class pocket battleships being launched by Germany, up until the Alaska class, US cruisers designed between the wars followed this pattern. The initial impetus for the Alaska design came from the deployments of Germanys so-called pocket battleships in the early 1930s, while these claims are difficult to verify, they have led to the speculation that their design was politically motivated. One historian described the process of the Alaska class as torturous due to the numerous changes and modifications made to the ships layouts by numerous departments. The General Board, in an attempt to keep the displacement under 25,000 tons, as a result, the Alaska class, when built, were vulnerable to torpedoes and shells that fell short of the ship. The final design was a scaled-up Baltimore class that had the machinery as the Essex-class aircraft carriers. This ship combined a main armament of nine 12-inch guns with protection against 10-inch gunfire into a hull that was capable of 33 knots, the Alaskas were officially funded in September 1940 along with a plethora of other ships as a part of the Two-Ocean Navy Act. Their role had been altered slightly, in addition to their surface-to-surface role, yet another drastic change was considered during the carrier panic in late 1941, when the Navy realized that they needed more aircraft carriers as quickly as possible. Many hulls currently under construction were considered for conversion into carriers, in addition, the large cruiser design did not include the massive underwater protections found in normal carriers due to the armor weight devoted to counter shell fire. Lastly, an Alaska conversion could not satisfy the goal of having new aircraft carriers quickly. With this in mind, all planning to convert the Alaskas was abandoned on 7 January 1942, of the six Alaska-class cruisers that were planned, only three were laid down. The first two, Alaska and Guam, were completed, construction of Hawaii, the third, was suspended on 16 April 1947 when she was 84% complete. As a result, construction of the last three members of the class never began, and they were canceled on 24 June 1943. Alaska and Guam served with the U. S. Navy during the last year of World War II, similar to the Iowa-class fast battleships, their speed made them useful as shore bombardment ships and fast carrier escorts. Both protected Franklin when she was on her way to be repaired in Guam after being hit by two Japanese bombs
Guam during her shakedown cruise on 13 November 1944
Guam firing her main battery during a training session sometime in 1944–1945.