1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 4 (Australia)
26 x 50 minute episodes
Patrol Boat was made in cooperation with the Royal Australian Navy which had been trying to get something similar onto Aussie TV screens for years as a result of the popularity of the UK series Warship.
The ABC series featured a fictitious Royal Australian Navy ‘Attack class’ patrol boat named HMAS Ambush which was portrayed by two real navy patrol boats (HMAS Advance and HMAS Bombard) wearing the pennant number 83.
The boats were valued at A$800,000 each but the expensive price tags were not enough to prevent the cast and crew from getting seasick every time they reached the open sea sets for shooting.
The first series used such locations as Smith’s Creek in the Kuringai National Park just north of Sydney. The second series was filmed in Cairns and Sydney, and the Ambush was replaced by a Fremantle class patrol boat named HMAS Defiance (pennant number 207) which was played variously by real Australian navy ships HMAS Launceston, HMAS Townsville, HMAS Warrnambool, HMAS Whyalla and HMAS Wollongong.
Regular characters included the Commander of the Ambush, Lieutenant David Keating (Andrew McFarlane of The Sullivans fame) and his Executive Officer, Lieutenant Charles Fisher (Robert Coleby).
Storylines included pursuing drug runners, helping stranded refugee boats and destroying an old mine that had become dangerous to shipping.
Each self-contained episode was constructed around two stories, one revolving around an individual sailor while the other concerned the entire group.
The production took place at the ABC’s Frenchs Forest studio in Sydney, and the series did well when screened domestically – first on the ABC and then on Network Ten – and also sold well overseas.
Lieutenant David Keating
Lieutenant Charles Fisher
Petty Officer “Buffer” Johnston
A.B. “Chef” McKinnon
P.O. “Swain” Reynolds