USS Augusta (CA-31) - Service History

Service History

Damage to one of her turbines curtailed the ship's original shakedown cruise, but Augusta conducted abbreviated initial training during a cruise to Colón, Panama, and back, before she was assigned duty as flagship for Commander, Scouting Force, Vice Admiral Arthur L. Willard, on 21 May 1931. During the summer of 1931, she operated with the other warships of Scouting Force, carrying out tactical exercises off the New England coast. In August 1931 she was reclassified as a heavy cruiser, CA-31. In September, Augusta moved south to Chesapeake Bay, where she joined her colleagues in their normal fall gunnery drills until mid-November, when the cruisers retired to their home ports. Augusta entered the Norfolk Navy Yard at that time.

At the beginning of 1932 she and the other cruisers of the Scouting Force reassembled in Hampton Roads, whence they departed on 8 January on their way to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Augusta conducted training evolutions with the Scouting Force in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay until 18 February, when the force headed for the Panama Canal on its way to the eastern Pacific to participate in Fleet Problem XIII. She arrived in San Pedro, California, on 7 March but returned to sea three days later to execute the fleet problem. During the maneuvers Augusta and her colleagues in Scouting Force squared off against Battle Force in defense of three simulated "atolls" located at widely separated points on the West Coast. The exercises afforded the Fleet training in strategic scouting and an opportunity to practice defending and attacking a convoy.

The fleet problem ended on 18 March, but Augusta and the rest of Scouting Force did not return to the Atlantic at its conclusion as was normal. In a gesture that presaged Roosevelt's retention of the Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1940 after Fleet Problem XXI, the Hoover Administration kept the Fleet concentrated on the West Coast throughout 1932 in the unrealized hope that it might restrain Japanese aggression in China. In fact, Scouting Force was still on the West Coast almost a year later when the time came for Fleet Problem XIV in February 1933, and the Roosevelt Administration, which took office in March, proceeded to keep it there indefinitely. Consequently, Augusta continued to operate in the eastern Pacific until relieved of duty as Scouting Force's flagship late in October 1933. The cruiser left the Navy Yard, Puget Sound, Washington, and sailed for China on 20 October.

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