Included in the Battle Fleet’s Big Five, the USS Maryland BB-46 weighed 32,600 tons and was equipped with 16-inch guns. It was one of four ships that made up the Colorado Class of naval vessels that were characterized by their longer guns. Built in Newport News, Virginia and completed during July 1921, the USS Maryland BB-46 was based in Long Beach, California.
Outside of the regular fleet training and combat exercises, the naval vessel was commissioned for long distance cruises. Most notably, to Rio De Janeiro for Brazil’s Centennial Exposition in 1922, again in 1925 for the US Fleet’s trans-Pacific Voyage, and again by newly-elected President Herbert Hoover for his Goodwill Tour of Latin America in 1928. The home base was changed to Pearl Harbor in 1940.
Action in World War II
The USS Maryland BB-46 was actively engaged in combat, special operations, and pre-invasions during the years of 1941 through 1945. Damages from battle resulted in a major overhaul. In 1941 while engaged in World War II combat in the attack on Pearl Harbor, minor damage was sustained from two bombs. Repaired and overhauled, the naval vessel was returned to action to operate with Task Force One. It was deployed to the South Pacific in 1942. Special operations to capture the Japanese-held Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands during late 1943 and early 1944 involved it in further combat.
More damages resulted when it was hit by a torpedo during the pre-invasion of Saipan in June 1944. Months later an attack from a suicide plane resulted in extensive damages during the Battle of Midway in Kamikaze. Again, the USS Maryland was repaired and returned to action in September 1944. On April 7, 1945 in the Battle of Okinawa, it was hit again and sustained more damages. The war ended, and the repairs were not completed in time to return it to combat.
After the War
The USS Maryland was added to the Reserve Fleet. It was used to transport servicemen home from the mid-Pacific. Taken to Bremerton, Washington, and decommissioned in 1947, it was used to transport servicemen until 1959. Finally, in July 1959 the naval vessel was sold for scrapping.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet throughout conflicts during the last century, battleships also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers who served on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common on these ships because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, includingÂ mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.