Cruisers traditionally performed two roles: trade protection and fleet duties. Trade protection involved patrolling the sea lanes, hunting for enemy raiders, and providing close protection to convoys of merchant vessels. These tasks required a ship with a long range and reasonable armament that would handle well in all of the conditions found on the open ocean. In a battle, fleet cruisers were used for reconnaissance duties and to prevent enemy cruisers from doing the same. With the advent of naval aviation, cruisers were used to provide anti-aircraft support for the fleet, and in the Second World War were also used to bombard targets ashore.
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