USS Maryland (BB 46)

USS Maryland (BB 46) was a Colorado class battleship that suffered only minor damage at Pearl Harbor and was in service for almost the entire Pacific War, taking part in the invasions of the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, the Palaus, the Philippines and Okinawa.

The Maryland was laid down in 1917, launched in 1920 and completed in 1921. In 1923 she moved to the Pacific where she spent the rest of her active career.

The Maryland was inboard at position F-5 on battleship row on 7 December 1941, with Oklahoma to her outside. She thus took no torpedo hits, although the Oklahoma was badly hit. Two armour piercing bombs did hit the Maryland, one in the forecastle that did little damage and one underwater at the bow that caused some flooding. The Maryland was able to keep up anti-aircraft fire throughout the battle and then send damage repair parties onto less fortunate ships.

Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor:
USS Maryland and
capsized USS Oklahoma
during the
Pearl Harbor raid

The damage to the bow was soon patched, and the Maryland left Pearl Harbor on 20 December, reaching Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs on 30 December. It didn’t take long to complete the repairs and she left the yard on 26 February 1942.

Maryland and Colorado was available to provide a last line of defence off Oahu during the battle of Midway. A period of training followed, before the two battleships were moved to the South Pacific to protect the sea routes to Australia. They were based at Fiji from November 1942 and then at Noumea in New Caledonia where they remained until September 1943.

Although the 'old' battleships didn't have the speed to keep up with the new carrier fleets, their big guns were invaluable during the many amphibious landings of the Pacific War. In November the Maryland became the flagship of Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill, commander of the Southern Attack Force. Along with Tennessee and Colorado she took part in Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, bombarding Tarawa and Abemams atolls from 20-28 November.

Next came the invasion of the Marshalls (Operation Flintlock). The same three battleships formed Fire Support Group 53.5 of the Northern Attack Force (Rear Admiral Oldendorf). From 31 January-7 February 1944 the group supported the invasion of Kwajalein Atoll, where the Maryland spent much of her time bombarding Roi Island. She then took part in Operation Catchpole, the invasion of Eniwetok, this time as part of the Fire Support Group for Task Force 51.

After this battle the Maryland returned to Washington State for a refit.  At this point the short tower mainmast that had been built in 1942 was finally installed, replacing the stump of the original cage main mast. Extra 40mm anti-aircraft guns were also installed.

The Maryland returned from her refit in time to take part in Operation Forager - the invasion of the Marianas Islands. Maryland, California, Tennessee and Colorado formed TG 52.17 (Admiral Oldendorf), part of Task Force 52.3. The bombardment of Saipan began on 14 June. Although this battle lasted into July, the Maryland was hit by a torpedo dropped by a 'Betty'. The torpedo hit in the bow and caused enough damage to force her back to Pearl Harbor for a month of repairs.

USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Hovey (DD-208) and USS Long (DD-209), Panama Canal, 24 April 1931
USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Hovey (DD-208) and USS Long (DD-209), Panama Canal, 24 April 1931

The Maryland returned in time for Operation Stalemate II, the invasion of the Palau Islands. She formed part of TG 32.5, the Western Fire Support Group for Task Force 31, once again under Admiral Oldendorf. The Maryland opened fire on 12 September. The troops landed on 15 September and five days later organised resistance was over.

Next came the return to the Philippines. Maryland, Mississippi and West Virginia formed the Northern Attack Force FSG, TG 78, under Rear Admiral Weyler. Her role was to support the landings on Leyte. The bombardment began on 19 October and the troops landed on 20 October, but this time the Japanese Navy decided to intervene. The resulting Battle of Leyte Gulf was the final major battle fought by the Japanese Navy, and was a costly disaster. The battle started with a Japanese success when their plan to lure the American carriers away from the scene succeeded. This gave the Japanese a brief chance to break into Leyte Gulf, where a vast American armada would have been very vulnerable. Maryland took part in the battle of the Surigao Strait (25 October 1944), the last battle between battleships. This was a very one-sided affair, with six American battleships, cruisers and destroyers facing two Japanese battleships, one heavy cruiser and four destroyers. One battleship and three destroyers were knocked out before they even came into gunnery range. Once the American battleships opened fire the second Japanese battleship was sunk and the cruiser mortally wounded. The Maryland hadn't undergone the same major refit as some of the other old battleships and lacked radar for the guns. Instead she had to take her range from the West Virginia's radar guided salvoes, firing 48 16in shells.

In November the Maryland joined West Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico in Task Group 77.2 (Rear Admiral Weyler). This group was based in Leyte Gulf and provided fire support for the troops. This meant that they were vulnerable to kamikaze attack and on 29 November the Maryland was hit between A and B turrets. Thirty one men were killed in the attack, but the ship remained in action until 2 December when she set sail for Pearl Harbor and more repairs.

During this period her anti-aircraft defences were improved and she was given eight twin 5in/38 gunhouses, eleven quad mountings for 40mm guns and twenty twin and one quad 20mm mounting.

The Maryland returned to the fighting in time to take part in the invasion of Okinawa. All ten active 'old' battleships were formed into Task Force 54 (Read Admiral Deyo) and were formed into pairs. Maryland and Texas formed Group 1. The bombardment began on 25/26 March and continued after the landings. On 7 April the Maryland was damaged yet again, when a kamikaze hit the top of No.3 Turret. She was able to remain in action for another week, but on 14 April was detached to escort transport ships away from the battle zone. She then went back to Puget Sound, arriving on 7 May. This time the repairs lasted until August, and by the time she was ready for action the war was over. The Maryland became part of the 'Magic Carpet' fleet and in five trips carried 9,000 troops home.

After the war Maryland became part of the reserve 'mothball fleet', before being sold for scrap in 1959. 

Displacement (standard)

32,600t

Displacement (loaded)

33,590t

Top Speed

21kts

Range

8,000nm at 10kts

Armour – belt

13.5in-8in

 - deck

3.5in

 - turret faces

18in or 16in

 - turret sides

10-9in

 - turret top

5in

 - turret rear

9in

 - barbettes

13in

 - coning tower

16in

 - coning tower top

8in

Length

624ft

Width

97ft 5in

Armaments

Eight 16in guns in four twin turrets
Fourteen 5in guns
4 3in guns
Two 21in submerged beam torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1,080

Laid down

24 April 1917

Launched

20 March 1920

Completed

21 July 1921

Fate

Stricken 1959

US Standard Type Battleships 1941-45 (2): Tennessee, Colorado and Unbuilt Classes, Mark Stille. Looks at the 'Big Five', the last standard-type battleships built for the US Navy, and the most powerful ships in the US Navy for much of the interwar period. Covers their design, original purpose and actual Second World War service, where their limited speed meant they could no longer serve with the battle fleet. Despite that limit they played a major part in the Pacific War, and four fought in the last battleship action of the war. [read full review]
cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 April 2012), USS Maryland (BB 46) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Maryland_BB_46.html

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