SHIP CLASS: Colorado-class
SHIPS-IN-CLASS (4): USS Colorado (BB-45); USS Maryland (BB-46); USS Washington (BB-47); USS West Virginia (BB-48)
PROPULSION: 2 x Steam turbines delivering 28,900 shaft horsepower to 4 x screws.
Detailing the development and operational history of the USS Maryland (BB-46) Dreadnought Battleship.
Entry last updated on 11/1/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The storied USS Maryland (BB-46) was born from the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918). The vessel was the second ship making up the four-strong Colorado-class led by USS Colorado (BB-45) herself and joined by USS Washington (BB-47) and USS West Virginia (BB-48). These vessels were built as "dreadnought" warships based on the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought of the British Royal Navy. HMS Dreadnought rewrote the rulebook on big-gunned/steel warships when arriving in 1906 and nations scurried about in response for pursuit of naval superiority. Its name became synonymous with a whole new class of fighting ships like the Maryland. USS Maryland was ordered on December 5th, 1916 and saw her keel laid down on April 24th, 1917. She was officially launched on March 20th, 1920 - well after World War 1 had completed and the American involvement in Europe ended. The vessel was formally commissioned on July 21st, 1921 and came to be known under the nicknames of "Old Mary" and "Fighting Mary". The Colorado-class marked the last American battleships to be completed with four individual main gun turrets.
As built, the USS Maryland followed suit with the rest of the Colorado-class. Her primary armament was 8 x 16" (410mm) main guns through turrets One, Two, Three and Four - One and Two over the forecastle and Three and Four at the stern. This was supplemented through 12 x 5" (127mm) guns and 4 x 3" (76mm) guns. She also fielded torpedo-launching facilities through 2 x 21" (530mm) tubes. Armor protection for the ship included a belt measuring up to 13.5" thick. Her barbettes were protected in up to 13 inches while turret faces were 18 inches. The conning tower was given 11.5 inches of armor plating and joined by the decks with 3.5 inches of cover. Up to three floatplane aircraft were carried for "over-the-horizon" reconnaissance and light anti-ship duty. These were launched via a pair of catapults while being recovered through use of an onboard crane. Propulsion facilities included a 28,900 shaft horsepower system driving 4 x shafts at speeds upwards of 21 knots. Range was approximately 8,000 nautical miles. The propulsion system was exhausted through a pair of funnels found amidships. The vessel's full crew complement numbered 1,080 officers and enlisted personnel.
USS Maryland was handed her "shakedown" assignment along the East Coast of the United States where her systems could be pushed and adjustments/fixes made as required. Several international trips then followed while patrols were interspersed during the relatively quiet interwar period. In 1940, the Maryland was reassigned from the East to the West - at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. By this time, the Maryland had undergone a major refit during 1928-1929.
This set the stage for the Maryland to be present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941. Maryland made up a portion of "Battleship Row" and stood anchored along Ford Island with USS Oklahoma off of her immediate portside. Oklahoma was downed by ensuing Japanese attacks while Maryland survived two direct bomb hits for the loss of four men. Japanese authorities believed the Maryland to have been sunk during the attack and wrote her off. Instead, her damaged self was sent to Puget Sound Navy Yard for needed repairs. She was then placed in active service for June 1942 - the first vessel of the Pearl Harbor attack to return to active service. This constituted her second major refit of her career.
Maryland took part in many of the notable battles and overlying campaigns of the Pacific Theater during World War 2 (1939-1945). She supported the Battle of Midway (June 1942) effort by undertaking combat patrols. She then served as flagship during the Battle of Tarawa (November 1943) and took part in the Battle of Kwajalein Atoll (January-February 1944). As part of Task Force 52 (TF52), she participated in the Battle of Saipan (June-July 1944). Later, as part of the 7th Fleet, she made course for the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944). The pivotal Battle of Okinawa (April-June 1945) then followed before her combat service in the conflict ended. She and her crews earned a total of seven Battle Stars for their actions. She was given a third and forth major refit during 1944 and 1945 respectively.
USS Maryland was placed out of service in 1946 and officially decommissioned on April 3rd, 1947. Her hulk was sold for scrapping on July 8th, 1959, bringing about an end to her long-running, ocean-going tenure. A memorial, using her onboard bell, was erected in 1961 to honor the vessel and her fighting crewmen.