The idea for a large cruiser class originated in the early 1930s, when the U.S. Navy wanted a counter to the "pocket battleships" (Deutschland class) that were being launched and commissioned by Germany. Though nothing resulted immediately, planning for ships that eventually evolved into the Alaska class began in the later 1930s after the deployment of Germany's Scharnhorst class and rumors that Japan was constructing a new battlecruiser class.[A 7] The Alaska class were intended to serve as "cruiser-killers", capable of seeking out and destroying these post-Treaty heavy cruisers. To facilitate their purpose, the class was given large guns of a new and expensive design, limited armor protection against 12-inch shells, and machinery capable of speeds of about 31–33 knots (36–38 mph, 58–61 km/h).
The initial impetus for the design of the Alaska class came from the deployments of the so-called pocket battleships in the early 1930s. Though no actions were taken immediately, plans were revived in the late 1930s when intelligence reports indicated Japan was planning or building "super cruisers" which were much more powerful than U.S. heavy cruisers.[A 8] The navy responded in 1938, when a request from the General Board was sent to the Bureau of Construction and Repair for a "comprehensive study of all types of naval vessels for consideration for a new and expanded building program". The U.S. President at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, may have taken a lead role in the development of the class with his desire to have a counter to raiding abilities of Japanese cruisers and German pocket battleships, which had led to them being called "politically motivated", but these claims are difficult to verify.
The Alaska class were intended as an answer for the Mogami class in something like the Battle of The River Plate. And I did try this in Action Stations and a few variations. It's been a many years, but I tried three Mogami's against Alaska and Alaska easily won. I also tried a few other possible situations. North Carolina vs Bismarck, NC wins (It could have happened, they were once in pretty much the same place and time). This one is hazy, but I think I tried the three Brit ships vs CA Wichita and Wichita won. And pretty much any two appropriate US CA’s or CL will beat a “Pocket Battleship.” It doesn’t help the German ships that they got the inferior 11” guns. The Scharnhorst class got a much better version.
"Mines reported in the fairway,
"Warn all traffic and detain,
"'Sent up Unity, Cralibel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain."