The Cleveland design was very successful. The powerful anti-aircraft armament, an attribute which was of increasing importance throughout the Pacific war, was very well laid out, the main armament was adequate - the design was in general very well-balanced.
The ships of this class proved themselves able to withstand very heavy battle-damage. In particular, Houston (pictured above) was torpedoed shortly before the Leyte landings, during the great carrier raid on Formosa, and then torpedoed again while under tow, but she survived.
Many ships of the class saw extensive action in the Pacific War, including notably Cleveland, Montpelier, Denver and Columbia. These four were in action together in the cruiser/destroyer action of Empress Augusta Bay during the Bougainville landings in November 1943. At Leyte Denver and Columbia were part of Oldendorf's force in the Battle of Surigao Strait, and played a considerable role in the action - Columbia fired a total of 1,147 rounds (in 18 minutes) from her main armament during the main gunfire phase of the battle. Denver and Columbia then took part in the pursuit of the withdrawing Japanese forces.
Columbia in Surigao Strait - 3 January 1945 - en route to Lingayen Gulf
Other Cleveland Class ships were in action in the air-sea battles of 24 October 1944, Birmingham being badly damaged alongside the light carrier Princeton when giving assistance to the carrier. Mobile and Santa Fe took part in the closing action of the Battle for Leyte Gulf, in Rear Admiral Du Bose's pursuit group operating against the Japanese northern force off Cape Engano (Santa Fe being DuBose's flagship).
At Lingayen Gulf in the following January Columbia -
veteran of Empress Augusta Bay and Surigao Strait - remained
on station, carrying out her assigned shore bombardment duties,
despite having been hit by three kamikaze aircraft and badly damaged.