The USS George K. McKenzie was a Gearing-class destroyer built for the United States for the Second World War. She was named for the commander of a U.S. Navy submarine that was lost in the South Pacific in March 1943.
George K. MacKenzie's keel was laid at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in December 1944. Launched the following May, she was commissioned in June 1945 under command of Commander A.W. Slayden.
The Gearing class was a second-generation upgrade on the Fletcher class. Although it shared a great deal in common with the Fletcher-class, Gearing-type vessels were longer, more heavily armed and had a greater range, with a top speed of 35 knots (equivalent to approximately 40 MPH).
MacKenzie weighed in with a displacement of 2,464 tons when fully loaded, measured over 390 feet from bow to stern, and had a beam of just under 41 feet. Total crew compliment was 336 officers and seamen.
By the time MacKenzie returned from her shakedown trials off the Cuban coast, World War II had been over for a month. For the next two years, the vessel operated out of Norfolk, Virginia on routine peacetime missions along the Atlantic coast.
1948 was an active year during which MacKenzie was deployed on diplomatic missions to South America, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Another Mediterranean deployment took place between January and May of 1950.
George K. MacKenzie was ordered to the Pacific when hostilities broke out on the Korean Peninsula in June 1950. The destroyer served two tours of duty in the combat zone from July 1950 to January 1951, July 1951 to April 1952 and again between January and June of 1953.
During the remainder of the 1950s, MacKenzie was sent to Asia nine times on peacekeeping missions. During most of the 1960s, MacKenzie was stationed either at NB Yokosuka, Japan or out of Southern California. She undertook a number of combat missions to Vietnam between 1968 and 1972.
Naval vessels must undergo regular maintenance periods, known as "overhauls," during their lifetime. George K. MacKenzie underwent the first of these at the Boston Navy Yard between December 1948 and April 1949. Another major repair period took place in San Diego between February and July 1951 following the vessel's initial combat deployment to Korea.
In December 1962, the vessel entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard for its Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization overhaul, during which major modifications were made throughout the ship. This work took the better part of ten months.
Significant overhauls were done on MacKenzie at Long Beach between August 1966 and the following June and again from July until December 1970.
USS George K. MacKenzie was decommissioned in September 1976 and scuttled in a firing exercise off the California coast a month later.
Asbestos Risk on the USS George K. MacKenzie (DD-836)
Asbestos was installed on the George K. MacKenzie as an insulating and fireproofing material in engineering sections, pumps, and engines. Even though asbestos contamination was most common in the engineering compartments, there was no real way to avoid it on the ship. Exposure to asbestos has been conclusively linked to mesothelioma cancer.
A mesothelioma lawyer can explain the legal options of Navy veterans that served aboard the George K. MacKenzie and later suffered an asbestos injury. Many of your legal rights are also explained in our detailed mesothelioma information packet. Simply complete the form on this web page and we will send you a kit, absolutely free.Sources
Destroyer History Foundation. "Gearing Class"
Mooney, James. Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. (Washington DC; Department of the Navy, 1991).