In the early 1900s leading up to The Great War, conflicting views and opinions on cruiser design among the U.S. Navy’s top brass led to not a single new vessel of this class being laid down. With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1914 and the later involvement of American forces in the conflict, the U.S. Navy had every opportunity to gather the needed experience for creating a new cruiser design.
Thus, during WW1, numerous design propositions for new cruiser variants and subclasses were developed and assessed. In the end, two designs stood out from the rest; a light cruiser with a displacement of up to 8,000 tons and a heavier battlecruiser weighing up to 46,000 tons. The former of the two designs resulted in the creation of the Omaha-class light cruisers. Despite receiving the Congress’ approval in 1916, the Omaha-class cruisers weren’t put into production before more than two years worth of significant redesigning was done to the ship.
The lead ship of the class, USS Omaha, was laid down in December 1918 followed by 9 further ships of the class seeing completion by 1924. Among her sister ships was also USS Trenton (CL-11), the 8th ship of the class, launched in spring 1923. Trenton, like many American warships of the time, travelled a lot around the globe prior to the outbreak of WW2. She frequently took part in fleet exercises, patrols and maneuvers in the Atlantic and Pacific, whilst also paying visits to several Mediterranean ports. During the Spanish Civil War, Trenton was also involved in evacuating American citizens from the country as part of a smaller squadron.
During WW2, Trenton and her sister ships were already starting to show their age despite being upgraded several times. Therefore, ships of this class were primarily relegated to theaters where enemy opposition was estimated to be minimal and were assigned with less vital missions such as patrol duties and occasional shoreline bombardements. As such, no Omaha-class cruiser was ever lost in combat, though some were severely damaged, such as USS Raleigh during the Pearl Harbor raid. In the end, all ships of the Omaha-class were decommissioned after the end of WW2 and were subsequently sold for scrap by the late 1940s.