World War II: USS Maryland (BB-46)

USS Maryland (BB-46)
USS Maryland (BB-46) in Puget Sound, 1944.

US Naval History and Heritage Command


USS Maryland (BB-46) was the second ship of the US Navy's Colorado-class of battleship. Entering service in 1921, the battleship briefly served in the Atlantic before spending the majority of its career in the Pacific. At Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked, Maryland sustained two bomb hits but remained afloat and endeavored to fight off the enemy aircraft. Repaired after the attack, the battleship played a support role in the early campaigns in the Pacific such the 

Battle of Midway.

In 1943, Maryland joined in the Allies' island-hopping campaign across the Pacific and routinely provided naval gunfire support for troops ashore. The following year, it joined several other Pearl Harbor survivors in dealing out revenge on the Japanese at the Battle of Surigao Strait. Maryland's later activities included supporting the invasion of Okinawa and aiding in transporting American troops home as part of Operation Magic Carpet.


The fifth and last class of Standard-type battleship (Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Tennessee) developed for the US Navy, the Colorado-class represented an evolution of its predecessors. Conceived prior to the building of the Nevada-class, the Standard-type approach called for battleships that had common operational and tactical characteristics. These included the employment of oil-fired boilers rather than coal and the use of an “all or nothing” armor scheme. This armor arrangement saw key areas of the vessel, such as magazines and engineering, heavily protected while less important areas were left unarmored. In addition, Standard-type battleships were to have a tactical turn radius of 700 yards or less and a minimum top speed of 21 knots.  

Though similar to the preceding Tennessee-class, the Colorado-class mounted eight 16" guns in four twin turrets as opposed to the earlier vessels which carried twelve 14" guns in four triple turrets. The US Navy had been assessing the use of 16" guns for a few years and following successful tests of the weapon, discussions commenced regarding their use on the earlier Standard-type designs. This did not move forward due to the cost involved in altering these battleships and increasing their displacement to accommodate the new guns. In 1917, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels finally permitted the use of 16" guns on the condition that the new class not incorporate any other major design changes. The Colorado-class also carried a secondary battery of twelve to fourteen 5" guns and an anti-aircraft armament of four 3" guns.  


The second ship of the class, USS Maryland (BB-46) was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding on April 24, 1917. Construction moved forward on the vessel and on March 20, 1920, it slid into the water with Elizabeth S. Lee, daughter-in-law of Maryland Senator Blair Lee, acting as sponsor. An additional fifteen months of work followed and on July 21, 1921, Maryland entered commission, with Captain C.F. Preston in command. Departing Newport News, it conducted a shakedown cruise along the East Coast.

USS Maryland (BB-46) - Overview

  • Nation: United States
  • Type: Battleship
  • Shipyard: Newport News Shipbuilding
  • Laid Down: April 24, 1917
  • Launched: March 20, 1920
  • Commissioned: July 21, 1921
  • Fate: Sold for scrap

Specifications (as built)

  • Displacement: 32,600 tons
  • Length: 624 ft.
  • Beam: 97 ft., 6 in.
  • Draft: 30 ft., 6 in.
  • Propulsion: Turbo-electric transmission turning 4 propellers
  • Speed: 21.17 knots
  • Complement: 1,080 men

Armament (as built)

  • 8 × 16 in. gun (4 × 2)
  • 12 × 5 in. guns
  • 4 × 3 in. guns
  • 2 × 21 in. torpedo tubes

Interwar Years

Serving as flagship for Commander-in-Chief, US Atlantic Fleet Admiral Hilary P. Jones, Maryland traveled extensively in 1922. After taking part in graduation festivities at the US Naval Academy, it steamed north to Boston where it played a role in celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Embarking Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes on August 18, Maryland transported him south to Rio de Janeiro. Returning in September, it took part in fleet exercises the following spring before shifting to the West Coast. Serving in the Battle Fleet, Maryland and other battleships conducted a goodwill cruise to Australia and New Zealand in 1925. Three years later, the battleship carried President-elect Herbert Hoover on a tour of Latin American before returning to the United States for an overhaul.

Pearl Harbor

Resuming routine peacetime exercises and training, Maryland continued to largely operate in the Pacific during the 1930s. Steaming to Hawaii in April 1940, the battleship took part in Fleet Problem XXI which simulated a defense of the islands. Due to rising tensions with Japan, the fleet remained in Hawaiian waters following the exercise and shifted its base to Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Maryland was moored along Battleship Row inboard of USS Oklahoma (BB-37) when the Japanese attacked and pulled the United States into World War II. Responding with anti-aircraft fire, the battleship was protected from torpedo attack by Oklahoma. When its neighbor capsized early in the attack, many of its crew jumped aboard Maryland and aided in the ship's defense. 

In the course of the fighting, Maryland sustained hits from two armor-piercing bombs which caused some flooding. Remaining afloat, the battleship departed Pearl Harbor later in December and steamed to Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs and an overhaul. Emerging from the yard on February 26, 1942, Maryland moved through shakedown cruises and training. Rejoining combat operations in June, it played a support role during the pivotal Battle of Midway. Ordered back to San Francisco, Maryland spent part of the summer in training exercises before joining USS Colorado (BB-45) for patrol duty around Fiji.


Shifting to the New Hebrides in early 1943, Maryland operated off Efate before moving south to Espiritu Santo. Returning to Pearl Harbor in August, the battleship underwent a five-week overhaul which included enhancements to its anti-aircraft defenses. Named flagship of Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill's V Amphibious Force and Southern Attack Force, Maryland put to sea on October 20 to take part in the invasion of Tarawa. Opening fire on Japanese positions on November 20, the battleship provided naval gunfire support for the Marines ashore throughout the battle. After a brief voyage to the West Coast for repairs, Maryland rejoined the fleet and made for the Marshall Islands. Arriving, it covered the landings on Roi-Namur on January 30, 1944, before aiding in the assault on Kwajalein the following day. 

With the completion of operations in the Marshalls, Maryland received orders to commence an overhaul and re-gunning at Puget Sound. Leaving the yard on May 5, it joined Task Force 52 for participation in the Marianas Campaign.  Reaching Saipan, Maryland commenced firing on the island on June 14. Covering the landings the next day, the battleship pounded Japanese targets as the fighting raged. On June 22, Maryland sustained a torpedo hit from a Mitsubishi G4M Betty which opened a hole in the battleship's bow. Withdrawn from the battle, it moved to Eniwetok before proceeding back to Pearl Harbor. Due to the damage to the bow, this voyage was conducted in reverse. Repaired in 34 days, Maryland steamed to the Solomon Islands before joining Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Western Fire Support Group for the invasion of Peleliu. Attacking on September 12, the battleship reprised its support role and aided Allied forces ashore until the island fell.

Surigao Strait & Okinawa

On October 12, Maryland sortied from Manus to provide cover for the landings on Leyte in the Philippines. Striking six days later, it remained in the area as Allied forces went ashore on October 20. As the wider Battle of Leyte Gulf commenced, Maryland and Oldendorf's other battleships shifted south to cover the Surigao Strait. Attacked on the night of October 24, the American ships crossed the Japanese "T" and sank two Japanese battleships (Yamashiro & Fuso) and a heavy cruiser (Mogami). Continuing to operate in the Philippines, Maryland sustained a kamikaze hit on November 29 which caused damage between the forward turrets as well as killed 31 and wounded 30. Repaired at Pearl Harbor, the battleship was out of action until March 4, 1945.  

Reaching Ulithi, Maryland joined Task Force 54 and departed for the invasion of Okinawa on March 21. Initially tasked with eliminating targets on the island's south coast, the battleship then shifted west as the fighting progressed. Moving north with TF54 on April 7, Maryland sought to counter Operation Ten-Go which involved the Japanese battleship Yamato. This effort succumbed to American carrier planes before TF54 arrived. That evening, Maryland took a kamikaze hit on Turret No.3 which killed 10 and injured 37.  Despite the resulting damage, the battleship remained on station for another week. Ordered to escort transports to Guam, it then proceeded to Pearl Harbor and on to Puget Sound for repairs and an overhaul.  

Final Actions

Arriving, Maryland had its 5" guns replaced and enhancements made to the crew's quarters. Work on the ship ended in August just as the Japanese ceased hostilities. Ordered to take part in Operation Magic Carpet, the battleship assisted in returning American servicemen to the United States. Operating between Pearl Harbor and the West Coast, Maryland transported over 8,000 men home before completing this mission in early December. Moved into reserve status on July 16, 1946, the battleship left commission on April 3, 1947. The US Navy retained Maryland for another twelve years until selling the ship for scrap on July 8, 1959.

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Your Citation
Hickman, Kennedy. "World War II: USS Maryland (BB-46)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Hickman, Kennedy. (2020, August 28). World War II: USS Maryland (BB-46). Retrieved from Hickman, Kennedy. "World War II: USS Maryland (BB-46)." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).