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Sea Patrol – Cometh the Hour (2007)


Patrol ship HMAS Hammersley’s navy service is coming to an end: she is due to be decommissioned and her crew relocated. She heads out on her last voyage, in pursuit of villain Rick Gallagher (Martin Lunes) and a shipment of illegal toxins that could be used for chemical warfare. The CO, Lieutenant Commander Mike Flynn (Ian Stenlake), has extra reason to be concerned – his love interest Dr Ursula Morrell (Sibylla Budd) is on board.

Curator’s notes

Sea Patrol combines action and relationship drama on a large budget for an Australian production, evidenced in the ocean-based action scenes and spectacular fly-over views of the Mission Beach region in far north Queensland. It is the second Australian drama to depict life on a navy patrol ship. The first was the ABC’s Patrol Boat (1979 and 1983) and, though unrelated, the two are interesting to compare (see Patrol Boat – Never Under the White Ensign, 1979). The earlier show’s depiction of navy life seems a little quaint and low-key in comparison with Sea Patrol, its storylines as likely to be about the boredom and isolation of navy life as its dangers. At one point Patrol Boat’s characters even tell off a journalist for wanting to sensationalise their activities.

Sea Patrol’s HMAS Hammersley spends considerably more time engaged in serious confrontations, pursuing people smugglers and potential terrorists. In part this is an issue of genre: Sea Patrol is an action drama and more oriented towards adventure, spectacle and suspense. However, these contrasts arguably also reflect a different era and in particular a contemporary preoccupation with border security in the age of the 'war on terror’. There has been less of a shift in the depiction of the navy 'character’. In both series, military life and seafaring are portrayed as a calling, the characters driven by stoicism, duty and a belief that their work is of service to the Australian public.

Most episodes of Sea Patrol have self-contained plotlines as well as some ongoing threads. Cometh the Hour devotes itself to wrapping up a mystery that has bubbled away throughout the first series, involving the shipment of chemical toxins.

With Sea Patrol, producer Hal McElroy again teams up with star Lisa McCune, whose Maggie in his long-running police drama Blue Heelers (1994–2006) was one of the most popular figures in Australian television history. Sea Patrol saw McCune nominated for the Most Popular Television Personality Logie in 2008, an award she won many times during Blue Heelers’s run.

Sea Patrol was produced at double the average cost of a local drama series, with a budget of around one million dollars per episode. Between 2007 and 2011 the Nine Network broadcast five 13-episode seasons. In October 2010 Nine announced it would not be renewing the series because production costs were too expensive without the government tax concession that cut off after 65 episodes.

Cometh the Hour is episode 13 and the last in series one. It first screened on 4 October 2007 on the Nine Network.