The second of ten scout cruisers of the Omaha class, the USS Milwaukee (CL-5) had, with one exception, a pedestrian service life. All ships of the class were built soon after World War I to answer a need for fleet scouts. Battle fleets needed “eyes” to find the enemy, with speed, range, and armament to counter peer combatants.
Long and slim, with ten 6-inch guns and overly large boiler rooms to provide steam for their 35-knot top speed, the Omahas were also anachronistic. The fire rooms required four tall, thin funnels to provide needed draft, which in many respects made them appear to be simply larger versions of the “four-piper” Clemson-class destroyers. Six guns of their main armament were carried in obsolete casemate mountings at the four quarters. During the interwar years the Omahas served admirably, but barely a decade after their commissioning, shipboard aircraft and radar had nullified their usefulness in their designed role.