Launched on 26 August 1937, the Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL-48) was the second U.S. warship to bear that name. The Honolulu was moored at Pearl Harbor Naval Station when the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941. Suffering only light damage to her hull, she was quickly repaired and assigned to escort duty in Australia, Samoa, and the United States, which she followed until the end of May.
On 7 August 1942, the Honolulu sailed to the Aleutian Island of Kiska to begin a bombardment there. Later that month, she screened American landings at Adak Island, the first such landing in the Aleutians. In November, the ship sailed south from San Francisco, and shortly thereafter she fought in the battle of Tassafaronga which prevented the Japanese reinforcement of Guadalcanal at a serious cost to allied warships.