USS Salt Lake City, a 9100-ton Pensacola class heavy cruiser built at Camden, New Jersey, was commissioned in December 1929. Her original hull number, CL-25, was changed to CA-25 in July 1931. The ship's first two years of active service were spent in the Atlantic area. She shifted her base to the U.S. west coast in early 1932 and was thereafter generally in the Pacific, with occasional trips through the Panama Canal for brief operations in the Caribbean and Atlantic. In mid-1941, Salt Lake City crossed the Pacific to visit Australia.
On 7 December 1941, when the United States was brought into World War II by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Salt Lake City was operating with the USS Enterprise task group. She remained in the Hawaiian area for the next two months, then participated in her task force's central Pacific raids during February and March 1942. In April, she was part of the force that executed the Doolittle raid on Japan. During August-October 1942, Salt Lake City was in the south Pacific to support the campaign to seize and hold Guadalcanal. She escorted USS Wasp during the landings of 7-8 August and subsequent operations, and was present when Wasp was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 15 September. On 11-12 October, Salt Lake City helped fight the Battle of Cape Esperance, receiving damage from enemy gunfire.
Following repairs, Salt Lake City was sent to the north Pacific. There, on 26 March 1943 she was the largest U.S. ship present during the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, and was again damaged by Japanese shells. She continued her support of the Aleutian Campaign until September, when she returned to Hawaii to prepare for central Pacific operations. These included the seizure of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, the invasion of the Marshalls in January and February 1944, and raids on Japanese bases in February-April. The cruiser had a brief north Pacific tour in mid-1944, followed by further central Pacific operations. She took part in carrier operations prior to and during the October 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf.
In 1945, Salt Lake City participated in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. After the fighting ended in August, she supported the Occupation of Japan and "Magic Carpet" operations to transport American servicemen back to the U.S. The now-elderly cruiser was then placed in relatively inactive status until sent to serve as a target during the July 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. Left severely damaged by this experience, USS Salt Lake City was decommissioned a month later. She was sunk as a target for conventional weapons in May 1948.