To a civilian, the Mackenzie may have looked like a formidable war machine. She was 366 feet of light-grey sleekness. Her stylish rounded corners were designed to shed the effects of nuclear fallout. Her main mast was tall, and her radar antennas looked powerful and capable. Even her guns looked impressive. But, looks could really be deceiving.

Where the Mackenzie really lacked was in armament. She was outfitted with two deck guns mounted fore and aft, they were formidable looking but they were of an older design and only intended for short-range combat. As well, she had anti-submarine mortars aft and torpedo tubes amidships, both weapon systems designed to attack an underwater threat. Unlike other surface combatants of the 1980s, the Mackenzie lacked any modern missile systems. Therefore, she wasn't a long-range threat to anyone, and she really couldn't defend herself from a missile attack. In reality, during a bout of modern naval combat the Mackenzie would be a sitting duck.

Even her engines were outdated. Yes, they did put out a maximum speed of 28 knots; however, she was powered by older style boilers that fed into steam turbines. It was modern in the 1960s, but twenty years later, it was simply old school. Still, the older technology was reliable enough to take the Mackenzie anywhere in the world, just at a slower pace than some of the more modern warships.

None of this really mattered that much to the Mackenzie's crew. They loved the ship and always did their very best to make everything work. Plus, they all knew that the Mackenzie's missions were mostly low-level, as she was used primarily as a training platform for Ship's Officers. This took her in and out of most bays and waterways on the west coast. It was a low stress life for the regular crew, but taxing for the Officer trainees. Only occasionally was the Mackenzie ever called upon for more demanding and interesting missions.

An excerpt from Whiskey 601, a novel by Mark Nelson