The second U.S. Navy warship to bear the name Guam was the second of the controversial large cruisers of the Alaska class. Hull number CB-2—the Guam—was launched on 12 November 1943. Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, the Guam was commissioned on 17 September 1944.
The Guam and her sister ship, the Alaska (CB-1), were the only battlecruiser-type ships ever completed for the U.S. Navy. Armed with nine 12-inch guns, the Alaskas were the result of an inaccurate prewar intelligence estimate that reported the Japanese were constructing extremely fast large cruisers as commerce raiders.
In February 1945, the Guam joined the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and shortly thereafter received Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal as a distinguished visitor. The following month, the Guam sailed into Ulithi, where she joined the Alaska as part of the powerful Task Force 58, cutting a path toward Kyushu and Shikoku.