How One Old Battleship Survived Pearl Harbor and Wreaked Havoc on Imperial Japan

Robert Farley
By U.S. Navy photo 80-G-19949, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives). The original uploader was Ahseaton at English Wikipedia., 2005-11-16 (original upload date) - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Record

Robert Farley

Security, Asia

A great battleship.

How One Old Battleship Survived Pearl Harbor and Wreaked Havoc on Imperial Japan

Maryland entered service in 1920, shortly before the Washington Naval Treaty sharply limited battleship construction. One of her incomplete sisters, USS Washington, was sunk as a target under the provisions of the Treaty. Consequently, the Treaty left Maryland and her remaining sisters as the most modern units in the fleet.

Not every battleship attacked at Pearl Harbor was badly damaged. 

USS Maryland escaped virtually unscathed and served with the Pacific Fleet as the tide of war turned against the Japanese. Built to destroy enemy battleships, Maryland supported U.S. Navy operations with escort missions and shore bombardment through the end of the war, eventually finding the opportunity to engage Japanese warships in surface combat. 


Laid down in 1916, USS Maryland represented the zenith of “standard type” U.S. battleship development. These ships had compatible speeds, turning circles, and armaments, allowing them to form a squadron that could operate as a cohesive unit. Maryland was one of the “Big Five” of the last five standard type battleships completed by the United States. These ships displaced some 33,000 tons and could make twenty-one knots. Maryland and her two sisters (USS Colorado and USS West Virginia) differed from the first two ships (USS Tennessee and USS California) in that they carried eight 16” guns in four twin turrets rather than twelve 14” in triple turrets. 

(This first appeared in June 2019.)

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