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Ipswich switches over

Volume 49, No. 20, November 02, 2006

GETTING FAMILIAR: The star of the new Channel Nine television series Sea Patrol, Lisa McCune, gets to know the Navy a little better. Shooting for the new 13-hour mini-series is underway aboard HMAS Ipswich, which has been re-badged as HMAS Hammersely for the show.

Photo: Courtesy of News Ltd

By Barry Rollings

HMAS Ipswich has gone under cover, all in the name of Navy’s strong commitment to the new television series Sea Patrol.

Like something from the pages of fiction, the Fremantle Class patrol boat has “disappeared”, if only temporarily, to re-emerge as HMAS Hammersely in the new $15m, 13-hour mini-series expected to screen on Channel Nine in the second half of 2007.

Complete with new sideplates bearing the name HMAS Hammersley, new ceremonial life rings and a new pennant number – 202 – HMAS Ipswich/Hammersely is about three weeks into a six-week schedule of shooting six days a week off Queensland’s Dunk Island.

The series, starring Lisa McCune, is being produced by husband and wife team Hal and Di McElroy for McElroy All Media Pty. Ltd.

Ipswich’s CO LCDR Darren Grogan said his crew were enjoying very much the opportunity to showcase “what we do aboard a patrol boat”.

There was a great deal of non-speaking, non-scripted participation by Ipswich’s complement of 25 (most will be featured when the series airs) with all the professional and operational tasking such as craft navigation, launching a vessel for a boarding party and man-overboard recoveries done by his team.
LCDR Grogan sees it as a great opportunity to assist with recruiting and retention, as well as raise community awareness and understanding of the great diversity of roles that Navy fulfils and the diversity of careers that it offers.

“The crew is excited about the show because not many people get to see what we do out here – sometimes in a fairly volatile environment – and this provides an innovative opportunity to advertise the outstanding job that the Patrol Boat Force does in defending our national interests,” LCDR Grogan said.

“I think we are lucky to be working with such a skilled production team, led by Hal and Di, in a very professional organisation.
‘Their team and mine have melded together well in quite a dangerous and difficult work environment to deliver one of the biggest, if not the biggest, drama series produced in Australia.’
– LCDR Darren Grogan

Individual scenes were being shot to make the most of the assets now at sea and would be assembled later into their appropriate episodes.
The rest of the filming will be conducted at HMAS Penguin in Sydney using another Fremantle Class patrol boat, the former HMAS Wollongong.

The series also had opened up opportunities to other Navy assets transiting through the area. The Fremantle Class HMAS Townsville had been involved in some filming, with the frigates HMAS Newcastle and Darwin set to find their niches on the small screen in filming within the next few weeks.

Having another 30-odd people on board virtually doubled the crew of Ipswich/Hammersely which had added to the challenges, LCDR Grogan said.
“We have had to manage all those issues closely and safely,” he said.

“The whole process is being watched closely by all involved in Navy and everyone is working hard because we want to ensure this is a successful project.”


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