USS Maryland (BB-46), also known as "Old Mary" or "Fighting Mary" to her crewmates, was a Colorado-class battleship. She was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the seventh state. She was commissioned in 1921 and, serving as the flagship of the fleet, cruised to Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
She is most notable for her service in World War II. She was present on Battleship Row during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, and was lightly damaged by Japanese bombs. Returning to duty in 1942, she saw service in the Pacific War, first supporting the rest of the fleet at the Battle of Midway, and then patrolling the Fiji Islands to guard against Japanese incursion. Next, she went on the offensive, commencing shore bombardments in the Battle of Tarawa and later in the Battle of Kwajalein. During the Battle of Saipanshe took torpedo damage to her bow, necessitating repairs and refits. She then participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf where she was hit by a kamikaze. She took anotherkamikaze hit at the Battle of Okinawa, and was under repair at the end of World War II.
After service in Operation Magic Carpet, she was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap. She received seven battle stars for World War II service.
Hull of Maryland
under construction c. 1917
Maryland was one of four dreadnought battleships of the Colorado class to be constructed. Her keel was laid down on 24 April 1917 byNewport News Shipbuilding Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 20 March 1920, and sponsored by Mrs. E. Brook Lee daughter-in-law of U.S. Senator from Maryland Blair Lee; she was commissioned on 21 July 1921, with Captain C.F. Preston in command. She was the third ship named for the state of Maryland, the first Maryland was a sloop commissioned in 1799 and thesecond Maryland was an armored cruiser commissioned in 1905.
Maryland had an overall length of 624 feet (190 m). She had an extreme beam of 97.5 feet (29.7 m) and a mean draft of 30.5 feet (9.3 m). She displaced 32,000 tonnes (31,000 long tons; 35,000 short tons). Her armor was 18 inches (460 mm) at its maximum thickness. Her designed speed was 21 knots. Her crew complement consisted of 58 officers and 1,022 men.
Maryland's main battery consisted of eight 16 in (406 mm)/45 caliber Mark 5 guns in four double turrets (two in a superfiring pair forward, two in a superfiring pair mounted aft of the main superstructure) that were capable of firing 2,110 pounds (960 kg) armor-piercing (AP) Mark 3 shells, later upgraded to 2,240 pounds (1,020 kg) Mark 5. Her secondary battery consisted of twelve 5"/51 caliber guns as well as eight 3"/50 caliber guns. She was also armed with a pair of 21 inches (530 mm) submerged torpedo tubes.She was outfitted with a new type of seaplane catapult and the first 16 in (410 mm) guns mounted on a U.S. ship.
Following her commissioning, Maryland undertook an East Coast shakedown cruise. Shortly thereafter, Maryland was made flagshipof Admiral Hilary P. Jones. Maryland found herself in great demand for special occasions. She appeared at Annapolis, Maryland, for the 1922 United States Naval Academy graduation and at Boston, Massachusetts, for the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill and the Fourth of July. From 18 August to 25 September, she paid her first visit to a foreign port transporting Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes to Rio de Janeiro for Brazil's Centennial Exposition. The next year, after fleet exercises off the Panama Canal Zone, Maryland transited the canal in the latter part of June to join the battle fleet stationed on the west coast. She continued to be a flagship until 1923 when the flag was shifted to Pennsylvania.
She made another voyage to a foreign port in 1925, this time to Australia and New Zealand. Several years later, in 1928, she transported President-elect Herbert Hoover on the Pacific leg of his tour of Latin America. She was overhauled in 1928–1929, and the eight 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns were replaced by eight 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns. Throughout these years and the 1930s, she served as a mainstay of fleet readiness through tireless training operations. She conducted numerous patrols in the 1930s.
In 1940, Maryland and the other battleships of the battle force changed their bases of operations to Pearl Harbor. She was present at Battleship Row along Ford Island during theJapanese attack on 7 December 1941.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
On the morning of 7 December, Maryland was moored along Ford Island, with Oklahoma to port, connected by lines and a gangway. To her fore was California, whileTennessee and West Virginia were astern. Further aft were Nevada and Arizona. The seven battleships, in what is now known as "Battleship Row," had recently returned from maneuvers. Many of Maryland's crew were preparing for shore leave at 09:00 or eating breakfast when the Japanese attack began. As the first Japanese aircraft appeared and explosions rocked the outboard battleships, Maryland 's bugler blew general quarters.
Seaman Leslie Short—addressing Christmas cards near his machine gun—brought the first of his ship's guns into play, shooting down one of two torpedo bombers that had just released against Oklahoma. Inboard of Oklahoma, and thus protected from the initial torpedo attack, Maryland managed to bring all her antiaircraft (AA) batteries into action. The devastating initial attack sunk Oklahoma, and she capsized quickly, with many of her surviving men climbing aboard Maryland to assist her with anti-aircraft defenses.
Aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, with Maryland
near the top of the photo, shown along with several other sunken battleships
Maryland was struck by two armor-piercing bombs which detonated low on her hull. The first struck the forecastle awning and made a hole about 12 ft (3.7 m) by 20 ft (6.1 m). The second exploded after entering the hull at the 22 ft (6.7 m) water level at Frame 10.The latter hit caused flooding and increased the draft forward by 5 ft (1.5 m). Maryland continued to fire and, after the attack, sent firefighting parties to assist her compatriots, especially attempting to rescue survivors from the capsized Oklahoma. The men continued to muster the AA defenses in case the Japanese returned to attack. In all, two officers and two men were killed in the attack.
The Japanese erroneously announced that Maryland had been sunk, but on 30 December, the damaged ship entered Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs just behind Tennessee. Two of the original twelve 5 in/51 cal guns were removed and the 5 in/25 cal guns were replaced by an equal number of 5 in/38 cal dual purpose guns. Over the course of several months, she was repaired and overhauled, receiving new fighting equipment. Repairs were complete on 26 February 1942. She then underwent a series of shakedown cruises to West Coast ports and the Christmas Islands. She was sent back into action in June 1942, the first ship damaged at Pearl Harbor to return to duty.
in February 1942, after the completion of her repairs
During the important Battle of Midway, Maryland played a supporting role. Like the other older battleships, she was not fast enough to accompany the aircraft carriers, so she operated with a backup fleet. Maryland stood by on security, awaiting call from other ships if she was needed, until the end of the battle. At the end of the action around Midway, Maryland was sent to San Francisco.
Thereafter, Maryland engaged in almost constant training exercises with Battleship Division 2, Battleship Division 3, and Battleship Division 4 until 1 August, when she returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs, her first time in the harbor since the Japanese attack. She departed Pearl Harbor in early November with Colorado, bound for the forward area. On 12 November, the pig mascot King Neptune came aboard Maryland to initiate her "pollywogs" for the line-crossing ceremony. Maryland steamed for the Fiji Islands where she patrolled against Japanese incursion. The two battleships acted as sentinels to guard against Japanese advance to prevent Japanese forces from threatening Australia. During this duty, the two battleships conducted frequent sweeps for Japanese forces.
In early 1943, with the success of the Solomon Islands campaign, Allied forces went on the offensive. In February 1943, Maryland and Colorado moved to New Hebrides, operating off of Efate. Intense heat there proved difficult and unpleasant for the crew. She then moved to Espiritu Santo to guard against Japanese incursion, but heat and heavy rains plagued this tour of duty. Maryland and Colorado stood out of Aore Island Harbor in August. During a five-week overhaul at Pearl Harbor's shipyard, several 40 millimetres (1.6 in) AA guns were installed on the top decks and foremast as protection against anticipated Japanese air raids in future operations.