HMCS Mackenzie

HMCS Mackenzie was a Mackenzie-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and later the Canadian Forces. She was the lead ship of her class and is the first Canadian naval unit to carry this name. The ship was named for the Mackenzie River, the largest river system in Canada and runs primarily through the Northwest Territories.[2]

HMCS Mackenzie (DDE 261) off San Diego, in 1992
Name: Mackenzie
Namesake: Mackenzie River
Ordered: 1957
Builder: Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal
Laid down: 15 December 1958
Launched: 25 May 1961
Commissioned: 6 October 1962
Decommissioned: 3 August 1993
Refit: 1985 (DELEX)
Identification: Classification DDE 261
Motto: "By virtue and valour"[1]
Fate: Sold in March 1995 to the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia Scuttled off Sidney on 16 September 1995.
Badge: Gules, a bend wavy argent upon which a like bendlet azure, and over all a lion rampant or, armed and langued of the third, charged on the shoulder with a hurt upon which a representation of a compass rose of eight points argent, the vertical and horizontal pointers extending beyond the perimeter of the hurt.[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Mackenzie-class destroyer
Displacement: 2,880 t (2,830 long tons) full load
Length: 366 ft (111.6 m)
Beam: 42 ft (12.8 m)
Draught: 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m)
Installed power:
  • 2 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
  • 30,000 shp (22,000 kW)
  • 2 shafts
  • 2 × English-Electric geared steam turbines
Speed: 28 kn (51.9 km/h)
Complement: 290 regular, 170–210 training
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 1 × SPS-12 air search radar
  • 1 × SPS-10B surface search radar
  • 1 × Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar
  • 1 × SQS-501 high frequency bottom profiler sonar
  • 1 × SQS-502 high frequency mortar control sonar
  • 1 × SQS-503 hull mounted active search sonar
  • 1 × SQS-11 hull mounted active search sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 1 × DAU (replaced by SRD 501) high frequency direction finder
  • 1 × WLR 1C radar analyzer
  • 1 × UPD 501 radar detector
  • 1 × 3-inch/70 Mk.6 Vickers twin mount forward
  • 1 × 3-inch/50 Mk.33 FMC twin mount aft
  • 2 × Mk NC 10 Limbo ASW mortars
  • 2 × single Mk.2 "K-gun" launchers with homing torpedoes
  • 1 × 103 mm Bofors illumination rocket launcher

Entering service in 1962, Mackenzie served until 1993, mainly as a training ship. She was sold for use as an artificial reef in 1995 and sunk as such the same year off the coast of British Columbia.


The Mackenzie class was an offshoot of the St. Laurent-class design. Initially planned to be an improved version of the design, budget difficulties led to the Canadian government ordering a repeat of the previous Restigouche class,[3] with improved habitability and better pre-wetting, bridge and weatherdeck fittings to better deal with extreme cold.[4] The original intention was to give the Mackenzie class variable depth sonar during construction, but would have led to delays of up to a year in construction time, which the navy could not accept.[5]

General characteristics

The Mackenzie-class vessels measured 366 feet (112 m) in length, with a beam of 42 feet (13 m) and a draught of 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 m).[6][7] The Mackenzies displaced 2,880 tonnes (2,830 long tons) fully loaded and had a complement of 290.[6][note 1]

The class was powered by two Babcock & Wilcox boilers connected to the two-shaft English-Electric geared steam turbines creating 30,000 shaft horsepower (22,000 kW).[6] This gave the ships a maximum speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph).[7]


The most noticeable change for the Mackenzies was the replacement of the forward 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber Mk 22 guns of the St. Laurent design[note 2] with a dual Vickers 3-inch/70 caliber Mk 6 gun mount and the presence of a fire-control director atop the bridge superstructure. The bridge was raised one full deck higher than on previous classes in order to see over the new gun mount. The class did retain the rear dual 3-inch/50 caliber gun mount and for anti-submarine warfare, the class was provided with two Mk 10 Limbo mortars.[4] The ships were initially fitted with Mark 43 torpedoes to supplement their anti-submarine capability, but were quickly upgraded to the Mark 44 launched from a modified depth charge thrower. This was to give the destroyers the ability to combat submarines from a distance.[8]


The Mackenzie class were equipped with one SPS-12 air search radar, one SPS-10B surface search radar and one Sperry Mk.2 navigation radar.[4] For detection below the surface, the ships had one SQS-501 high frequency bottom profiler sonar, one SQS-503 hull mounted active search sonar,[4] one SQS-502 high frequency mortar control sonar and one SQS-11 hull mounted active search sonar.

DELEX refit

The DEstroyer Life EXtension (DELEX) refit was born out of the need to extend the life of the steam-powered destroyer escorts of the Canadian Navy in the 1980s until the next generation of surface ship was built. Encompassing all the classes based on the initial St. Laurent (the remaining St. Laurent, Restigouche, Mackenzie, and Annapolis-class vessels), the DELEX upgrades were meant to improve their ability to combat modern Soviet submarines,[9] and to allow them to continue to operate as part of NATO task forces.[10]

The DELEX refit for the Mackenzie class was the same for the Improved Restigouche-class vessels. This meant that the ships would receive the new tactical data system ADLIPS, new radars, new fire control and satellite navigation.[11] They exchanged the SQS-503 sonar for the newer SQS-505 model.[4]

They also received a triple mount for 12.75-inch (324 mm) torpedo tubes that would use the new Mk 46 homing torpedo.[4][11] The Mark 46 torpedo had a range of 12,000 yards (11,000 m) at over 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph)[11][12] with a high-explosive warhead weighing 96.8 pounds (43.9 kg).[13]

Construction and career

Mackenzie was ordered in 1957[3] and was laid down on 15 December 1958 at Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal. The ship was launched on 25 May 1961 and was commissioned into the RCN on 6 October 1962 with the classification number DDE 261.[7]

Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet based at Halifax, Mackenzie transferred to the Pacific on 2 March 1963.[7] She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet as a member of the Fourth Canadian Destroyer Squadron and served largely as a training ship with the RCN and later in the Canadian Forces under Maritime Forces Pacific as part of Training Group Pacific.[7][14] She was also used for surveillance of the west coast, like in March 1973, when she intercepted drug smugglers off Quatsino Sound.[14][15] In July 1982, Mackenzie shadowed the Soviet spy ship Aavril Sarychev in Canadian waters which had monitoring the North American west coast for new American submarines.[16] She underwent the DELEX refit between 25 May 1986 and 16 January 1987.[7]

Mackenzie was paid off from Maritime Command on 3 August 1993.[7]

As an artificial reef

Mackenzie's hulk was purchased by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) in March 1995 for $200,000.[17] She was stripped in spring/summer 1995 of environmental contaminants and scuttled on 16 September 1995 near Isle-de-Lis and Gooch Island, in the Georgia Strait off Sidney, British Columbia. She rests on clay and rock with a 20° list to port.

As a dive site, the location of Mackenzie experiences strong currents during large ebbs. Diving during these conditions is not recommended by the ARSBC. The average visibility in the area is 25 feet (7.6 m) and there is a multitude of sea life in and around the ship. Above 60 feet (18 m), divers can explore the bow and deck guns, superstructure, radar mast, and exhaust stacks. Below 60 feet, divers can explore 5 decks with access portals cut into the ship at various levels. The sea floor meets the bow at 90–100 feet (27–30 m) and the stern at 95–105 feet (29–32 m).

The ship's bell is currently held by the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum in Esquimalt, British Columbia.[18] During her active life, Mackenzie was affiliated with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, a primary reserve regiment in Vancouver.



  1. Macpherson and Barrie state the complement as 245 (12 officers and 233 enlisted)
  2. Caliber denotes the length of the barrel. In this case, 50 caliber means that the gun barrel is 50 times as long as it is in diameter


  1. Arbuckle, p. 62
  2. "Mackenzie Class Name Ship Launched". The Crowsnest. Vol. 13 no. 8. Queen's Printer. June 1961. p. 3.
  3. Milner, pp. 223–224
  4. Gardiner & Chumbley, p. 45
  5. MacIntosh, Dave (16 November 1962). "Canadian Navy Geared to Fight Fastest Subs". Montreal Gazette. Google News. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. Gardiner & Chumbley, pp. 44–45
  7. Macpherson and Barrie (2002), p. 256
  8. Milner, p. 225
  9. Milner, pp. 277–278
  10. Gimblett, p. 179
  11. Milner, p. 278
  12. "Mk 46 Torpedo". Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  13. "Fact File: Mk 46 torpedo". United States Navy. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  14. Barrie and Macpherson (1996), p. 53
  15. "No drugs found yet on old warship". Montreal Gazette. Google News. Canadian Press. 4 July 1973. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  16. "News media planes buzz Soviet spy vessel". Gainesville Sun. Google News. Associated Press. 18 July 1982. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  17. Orrick, p. 56
  18. "The Christening Bells Project". CFB Esquimalt Military and Naval Museum. Archived from the original on December 30, 2009.


  • Arbuckle, J. Graeme (1987). Badges of the Canadian Navy. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 0-920852-49-1.
  • Barrie, Ron; Macpherson, Ken (1996). Cadillac of Destroyers: HMCS St. Laurent and Her Successors. St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-55125-036-5.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Gimblett, Richard H., ed. (2009). The Naval Service of Canada 1910–2010: The Centennial Story. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-4597-1322-2.
  • Macpherson, Ken; Barrie, Ron (2002). The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910–2002 (Third ed.). St. Catharines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 1-55125-072-1.
  • Milner, Marc (2010). Canada's Navy: The First Century (Second ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9604-3.
  • Orrick, Bob (2010). RCN Reefs. Xlibris. ISBN 978-1-4535-1880-9.

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