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In a varied operating schedule designed to maintain the readiness of the Navy to meet the constant demands of defense and foreign policy, Des Moines cruised from her home port at Newport, and after 1950, from Norfolk, on exercises of every type in the Caribbean, along the east coast, in the Mediterranean, and in North Atlantic waters. Annually between 1949 and 1957 she deployed to the Mediterranean, during the first 7 years serving as flagship for the 6th Task Fleet (known as the 6th Fleet from 1950). In 1952, and each year from 1954 to 1957, she carried midshipmen for summer training cruises, crossing to Northern European ports on the first four cruises. She also sailed to Northern Europe on NATO exercises in 1952, 1953, and 1955.