USS Phoenix, a 9575-ton Brooklyn class light cruiser, was built at Camden, New Jersey. After commissioning in October 1938, she cruised along the Atlantic coast of South America on her shakedown, and in 1939 transferred to the Pacific, where she operated during the greatest part of her career. Based at Pearl Harbor in 1941, as relations with Japan deteriorated, Phoenix was moored there when the Japanese attacked on 7 December. She was among the ships that left the harbor during or shortly after the attack to undertake a search for the enemy task force. The cruiser spent the Pacific War's first month on convoy duty between Hawaii and the west coast, then steamed to Australia, her base in 1942 and much of 1943. During this time Phoenix covered the painful Allied retreat through the East Indies, protected shipping in the Indian Ocean and south Pacific, and operated with a force of U.S. and Australian warships in the New Guinea area.
In mid-1943, Phoenix went to the U.S. east coast for overhaul, but returned to the south Pacific to participate in the December 1943 landings at Cape Gloucester, on New Britain. For the rest of World War II she served with the Seventh Fleet, taking part during March-September 1944 in operations to seize the Admiralty Islands, the northern and western coasts of New Guinea and the island of Morotai. In addition to regular employment screening convoys and invasion task forces, and bombarding the enemy ashore, on 8-9 June she helped to pursue a group of Japanese destroyers that had attempted to bring reinforcements to the embattled island of Biak.
Phoenix next took part in the invasion of Leyte, in October 1944. As part of the Close Covering Group, she used her guns to soften up defenses ashore and, during the Battle of Surigao Strait on the night of 24-25 October, helped to decisively defeat a Japanese Navy counterattack. She continued to operate in the Philippines for several more months, fighting off suicide planes and shelling targets in support of assaults on Mindoro in December, into Lingayen Gulf in January 1945, Manila Bay in February and in the southern islands. In May-July, Phoenix covered a series of landings on Borneo.
The Pacific War ended in August 1945, as Phoenix was en route back to the United States for overhaul. She arrived in the Atlantic in September and was placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard early in 1946. Formally decommissioned in July of that year, Phoenix remained in "mothballs" until early 1951, when work began to prepare her for duty with the Argentine Navy. Recommissioned in October 1951 with the new name 17 de Octubre, and General Belgrano after 1956, she served Argentina for more than three decades. On 2 May 1982, while steaming at sea during the war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands, General Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk by the Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine Conqueror.
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