USS Maryland at Pearl Harbor


By: Bruce D.

The USS Maryland does not get the same attention as the other battleships that were at Pearl Harbor. Perhaps because she sustained minimal damage or because she only lost 4 men. The least damaged of all battleships during the Pearl Harbor attack was the USS Maryland.

That doesn’t mean that Maryland was not active during the attack. Not only was the crew and ship helpful in rescuing sailors who jumped overboard from Oklahoma, she also fired back at the bombers early in the attack. Within five minutes of the beginning of the attack Maryland was fighting back.

USS Maryland Panama Canal 1923

Nicknamed “Old Mary”, USS Maryland was a Colorado Class battleship from 1920. She was the flagship of her fleet for a couple of years before the honor was passed in 1923 to USS Pennsylvania, another battleship at Pearl Harbor during the attacks.

Old Mary was lucky to be inboard of USS Oklahoma, which was considered the easiest target to approach. Oklahoma took the brunt of the torpedo attack. Maryland, on the other hand, was able to avoid any torpedo hits. She had Oklahoma on one side and Ford Island on the other.

Maryland did take two hits from horizontal bombers. Those hits were ineffective on Maryland. One of the bombs, a single 800kg bomb hit the forecastle below the waterline.  Another similar bomb hit the forecastle, but caused almost no damage.

Two officers and two enlisted men were killed and fourteen were wounded. This is significantly less than the other battleships. As the least damaged ship, USS Maryland was the first to return to service. She was ready to go in December, 1941, but was sent to the West Coast for modernization first.

USS Maryland at Battleship Row

Those who were fortunate enough to escape the capsizing Oklahoma, swam to Maryland. Oil leaking from the USS Arizona and USS West Virginia was burning on the top of the water. but many men made it to USS Maryland. Some even joined the Maryland crew in shooting down Japanese planes. In response, the Japanese planes began firing 7.7mm machine guns at the deck of Old Mary.

In the end Maryland’s gunners claimed four confirmed enemy planed gunned down.

Maryland was preparing to get underway, but she was too busy rendering aid to men who jumped from the capsized Oklahoma. This was a fortunate choice for the Maryland considering when Nevada got underway, the enemy planes swarmed her.

USS Maryland After the Attack

After the Japanese planes departed Pearl Harbor and Oahu, fires raged on. The crew of the USS Maryland, continued for hours fighting fires and rescuing men from the water.

Staff officers of Maryland arranged communication, oxygen, and food for the men trapped in USS Oklahoma. They were able to save some, but not all of those inside the hull of Oklahoma.

Maryland was moved to another location in Pearl Harbor on December 10th.  She was examined before going to the Puget Sound for modernization on December 30th.  With modernization completed in February, 1942, Maryland was able to join the fleet and fight in the battle of Midway in June.

After the war she was changed to inactive, then in 1947 USS Maryland was scrapped.

 

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