The USS Maryland (BB-46) was commissioned in 1921 and saw heavy use in World War II. She was right at the forefront of many important battles. And while Maryland took many hits, she was never knocked out. This is her story.
Attack at Pearl Harbor
The USS Maryland was in a row of seven battleships in Pearl Harbor on December 7th. The ships had just returned from maneuvers when the attack began. Maryland was next to Oklahoma, and several Seamen from Oklahoma were able to escape to Maryland as their ship was being destroyed.
Seaman Leslie Short was the first on the battleship to return fire on the Japanese, and he was able to shoot down a torpedo bomber. In the attack, Maryland was hit by two armor-piercing bombs and was later repaired at the Puget Sound Naval Yard.
Battle of Tarawa
The Battle of Tarawa was the first where Maryland acted in an offensive capacity. The battleship fired guns and delivered a shore bombardment on its way closer to the island. Over the next three days, Maryland provided cover for Marines battling closer to shore. Upon the end of the operation, the boat took on two Japanese prisoners and returned to San Francisco for repairs.
Battle of Kwajalein Atoll
Maryland was once again on the attack at the Battle of Kwajalein Atoll. During the operation, the battleship, along with Sante Fe, Biloxi, and Indianapolis, bombarded the atoll. Maryland fired so many times that she split the liners of the guns in Turret No. 1. The ship departed for Bremerton Naval Yard following the battle, where her guns were replaced.
Battle of Saipan
The Battle of Saipan again began with Maryland on the offensive, bombarding the Japanese. The bombardment lasted for days. While providing cover for attacking ships, Maryland was hit with a torpedo from a Japanese bomber. The torpedo opened up a hole in the battleship’s starboard bow, and two Seamen were killed. The boat took off for Pearl Harbor, where she was repaired in just 34 days and back to action.
Battle of Leyte Gulf
During the Battle of Leyte, Maryland joined four other battleships in a bombardment of Leyte Gulf. Following the initial bombardment, the ship took a sentinel position, on the lookout for a Japanese counterattack. Over the next several days, the Japanese attempted to fight back from the sky. In a change in tactic, some of the pilots engaged in kamikaze attacks.
The ships then moved on to protect the Surigao Strait. Another battle erupted, and the Allies emerged victoriously. But when Maryland headed for replenishment, the ship was the victim of a kamikaze attack. The jet “crashed into Maryland between Turrets No. 1 and 2, piercing the forecastle, main, and armored decks and blowing a hole in the 4-inch steel, causing extensive damage and starting fires.” Thirty-one men were killed, and 30 more were wounded in the attack.
Battle of Okinawa
Following months of repairs, Maryland was back asea and headed to Okinawa. During the invasion, the battleship was tasked with attacking the island’s southern coast. Maryland’s attack was supposed to create a diversion that would lead the Japanese away from the main landing on the West Coast.
Again, the Japanese reacted to the attack with air raids, including kamikaze planes. On April 7th, a kamikaze plane with a 550-pound bomb smashed into Maryland. The bomb destroyed the 20mm mounts and caused fires. Ten were killed, 31 were injured, and six were missing following the attack. Maryland, though, was able to continue to battle to its completion. After being repaired at Bremerton, Maryland it then acted as a shuttle retrieving military personnel from the Pacific theatre and returning them to Pearl Harbor.
Following the war, Maryland was kept at the Puget Sound Naval Yard. She remained there until 1959, when she was sold for scrapping. In 1961, Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes a monument to the ship and its men. The memorial is kept at the Maryland State House in Annapolis.