Laid down in 1920, Nagara was commissioned 21 April, 1922. Lead ship of her class, she was completed with a flying-off platform above her no.2 turret. There was an internal hangar directly below the bridge, which opened out to the platform. This was eventually removed, and replaced with a more conventional catapult aft. Nagara spent much of her early career off the Asian mainland, initially assigned to Port Arthur, and subsequently patrolling the Chinese coast in the 1930s. In December, 1941, Nagara covered landings in the Philippines, and after the new year, continued covering landings in island groups in the southwest Pacific. In February-March, Nagara was attacked three times by submarines, all without effect. In June, Nagara was part of the First Carrier Striking Force at the Battle of Midway, and took Admiral Nagumo off his burning flagship Akagi. Reassigned to Truk, Nagara participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August, and the Battle of Santa Cruz in October, before being heavily engaged in both the First and Second Naval Battles of Guadalcanal in November. Nagara survived both actions with only minor damage, and would subsequently cover the evacuation of Guadalcanal three months later. Nagara spent the next year and a half without seeing major combat, until she was torpedoed by the submarine USS Croaker (SS-246) on 7 August, 1944. Nagara went down by the stern with over half her crew.