|Christopher "Swain" Blake|
|Sea Patrol character|
|First appearance||Welcome Aboard
Ep. 1.01 (Pilot), aired 5 July 2007
|Last appearance||One Perfect Day
Ep. 5.13 (Series finale), aired 12 July 2011
|Portrayed by||Matt Holmes|
|Nickname(s)||Swain or Swaino|
|Children||Chloë Blake (born October 2007)|
|Rank||Chief Petty Officer Season 1 Petty Officer Seasons 2-5|
Season one (2007)
It's the Fremantle class HMAS Hammersley’s final six months before she's decommissioned, and Chief Petty Officer Chris Blake Swain is serving aboard her as the coxswain, police officer, chief medic and most experienced helmsman. While he may not get squeamish at such things like blood and gore, the after-effects of such incidents do get to him in his own personal way, especially when a death is involved, and never more so than when the death is that of one of his colleagues.
When put in the impossible position of treating two serious ill crew mates who are suffering from a jellyfish sting, Swain must decide who is the more serious case and where to centre his attention. Chef Toby Jones Chefo is critical, needing constant supervision, whereas Jaffah appears to be recovering. So when Jaffah dies suddenly Swain blames himself for making the wrong choice.
These after-effects tend to coincide with his thoughts of his pregnant wife, Sally, at home, as the harsh reality of the chance of him never seeing Sally or their unborn child ever again every time he steps onto the ship. But as much as he loves his family, he loves his job, so he does it.
So when he is kidnapped by what appears to be commercial sailors, previously rescued from their sinking boat, life for him and the rest of the ship goes into chaos. The entire time Swain is driving the RHIB with the sailors back to their ship in the darkest of nights, all he can think about is getting back home to see Sally and their child, who is due to be born very soon.
All seems well, until when Swain trips while transporting one of the boxes of cargo from the sailor's ship to the RHIB, and out spills diamonds. He has seen too much, and the master of the vessel orders him to be tied up in a room down below decks that is quickly filling with water as the boat starts to sink.
Swain's future seems doomed as the room starts to quickly fill and despite all his struggling he finds himself unable to loosen the ropes which have tied his hands together around a pole. Hammersley are close and know they need to get there quickly. They find him with moments to spare, and fellow sailor Pete Buffer manages to free him and pull him from the flooded room.
A couple of weeks later, Sally goes into labour. Chris has arranged to take at least that day off work, but when his replacement comes down with the flu, he has no choice but to leave his wife and go to work. All seems well with his 'forty-five minutes there, and forty-five minutes back' plan until complications on the ship arise and they are delayed - instead, Chris ends up helping delivering the baby boy of two teenagers who Hammersley discover on a stolen boat!
Swain finally does make it back to base, just an hour after Sally had given birth to their daughter, who gets named Chloë. While neither of them are happy at him missing Chloë's birth, Sally is just glad he made it home to see their child.
Throughout season one the title sequence shows Swain as Chief Petty Officer Chris Blake. Though he wears the ranks insignia of a Petty Officer in episodes, and in all subsequent seasons he is shown as Petty Officer Chris Blake.
Season two (2008)
In the second season, Swain is back on the new Armidale class patrol boat, also named HMAS Hammersley, resuming his role as chief medic and coxswain. But unlike a year ago, Swain now has six-month-old baby daughter. Hammersley has been assigned to peacekeeping duties in the Samaru Islands, and this is keeping him far from home for extended periods, and back home things are not going well as both he and his wife, Sally, are finding it hard with him away from them both for weeks at a time. And now Sally has put her foot down, telling him to get a shore posting.
For Swain, it's an almost impossible choice, and he's left in an agony of indecision as he tries to get through every day on the seas, away from his family.
So when Sally takes herself and Chloë away to her parents' home in Perth, Swain is desperate to do anything to get her back. At the same time, he strikes an unlikely friendship with a young boy, Saka, while on the Samaru Islands. But when he discovers some dark secrets about the boy, Swain finds himself in a race against time to find three people and bring them back to their homes - Saka, his wife and his daughter.
Season three (2009)
Season 3 starts hard for Swain with the loss of one of his closest friends, ET. So when he and Spider are taken captive by Eco-terrorists only days after finding ET's body Swain is not his usual compassionate self, almost killing the Captain of the eco-terrorists boat in payment for their callous murder of foreign fishermen.
We see a darker side to Swain in season 3, shown again in China Dolls when he is deeply affected when he is unable to save a Chinese victim of people smuggling who dies in childbirth. He also gets to flex his muscles in a dramatic knife fight with one of the Chinese people smugglers, and again when he confronts Campbell Fulton for assaulting Nikki.
As chief medic Swain is often called upon to put himself at risk to help others, so the crew are surprised when he asks to be excused from a high risk mission to a radioactive Island. But Swain is a father, and he and Sally are trying for a second child, is there a point when he has to put his own interests ahead of others? However, when Bomber slips over an edge of a cliff and into the radioactive blast crater, Swain realises he has to put aside his fears and help her. Unfortunately, an accident with the winch puts both their lives in danger when they fall into the contaminated water within the crater.
Swain's role as chief medic is called upon again when Spider gets infected by coral poisoning and looks to be suffering septicaemia. Swain needs to deal with a desperately ill crew mate and cannot rely on his second medic, Bomber, who is too upset by Spider's illness to offer much assistance.
Season four (2010)
Season four sees the return of Swain's more compassionate and caring side, and the new Buffer, Dutchy, appears to take over some of Swain's duties.
Continuing as Chief Medic, with Bomber transferring off the ship he has a new protégé to train Jessica Bird. Bird is on a gap year straight out of school and is keen to learn everything she cam, with a special interest in the medical side of Swain's job, since she is hoping to become an emergency medic one day.
So when Swain gets given the job of steaming home a boat load of refugees, he picks Bird to help him, unfortunately the routine voyage goes horribly wrong when they are intercepted by a gang of smugglers who murder their victims and then sell the organs on the black market. With his medical training Swain is forced to take over when the smuggler's own Doctor is killed, and has no choice when they threaten to kill Bird if he doesn't agree to help. But when order to perform surgery on Bird to remove her kidneys for a buyer in Japan it is down to his ingenuity and quick thinking to save them both.
Swain medical skills and courage are called upon again when he and Dutchy stay to help an injured boy and local doctor who are being terrorised by the young men of the village. Swain's affections for Doctor Sarah Denton are obvious from the start, so when they are alone at night and moments from a possible attack by the men from the village their mutual affection turns briefly to passion, and they share a kiss. By morning, all is forgotten, apart from some uncomfortable glances which Dutchy immediately picks up on and asks Swain whether anything happened during the night. Swain denies it reminding Dutchy that he's married! But when they are later caught in an ambush and Sarah is shot an killed, Swain is genuinely upset and angry that all the work Sarah has done over the past few years to help the people of the village has been wasted.
Season five (2011)
Season five starts with a bang - a big one! A suicide bomber hits a night club where some of the Hammerelsy crew are enjoying some R&R. Witnessing the blast, Swain is able to rally his crew mates and provide aid to the wounded, and then continues to assist when paramedics and local rescue teams arrive. In testimony to his dedication to duty, while the rest of his crew sit exhausted from the aftermath of the attack Swain is one of the few still on his feet and helping with the injured.
Swain is a father as well as a Sailor, and these emotions are called into conflict when the body of a young Iraqi girl is recovered among victims of a boat explosion. The girl is not much older than Swain's own daughter so when he is confronted by a man claiming to be the girl father he breaks protocol and tell him what has happened to her. It later turns out he has been tricked and the man was in fact behind the explosion - he has been smuggling millions of dollars of Iraqi artefacts into the country and using the refugees as a cover. Swain manages to track down the girls real father and tell him the truth about what happened, so when the two Iraqi men meet it is only Swain who is able of stopping the father from exacting revenge on the man who murdered his daughter.
Season 5 revolves around a terrorist plot, and sees Hammersley working alongside an intelligence operative, Madelaine Cruise. In one operation the crew are asked to help with the extraction of an SAS team and Swain risks his life under fire when one of the team is caught in an explosion and knocked unconscious. Later when the man is found dead on board Hammersley, Swain needs to rely on all his skills from the police force to try and discover how the man died. When his investigation leads him to Madelaine's cabin he again almost killed confronting a stowaway who appears to be the murderer.
Swain is probably one of the most loved crew members of HMAS Hammersley, he has been there from the very beginning, and is always the first person to offer help and assistance, even risk his own life for that of a complete stranger. It is therefore somehow fitting that our time with Swain ends with the ultimate sacrifice.
When a boat loaded with Semtex and radioactive material (caesium) is tracked to Cairns harbour, Swain and SAS office Jim Roth remain on board to try to disarm it. Initially Swain is there only to steer the boat away from shore, but when the engine fails he makes the decision to remain on board and help Jim cut the wires which will disconnect the detonator from the caesium. With seconds to spare they throw the cases of caesium overboard, but there is no time to get clear of the blast and the boat explodes.
Sea Patrol ends with a heartfelt farewell by CO Mike Flynn to his friend and shipmate, Petty Officer Chris Blake, and we see for the first and only time, the young Chloe sitting with her mum, Sally. As the end credits roll, we learn that in honour of her father Chloe will join the Navy herself when she grows up, so continuing the Blake family line.
Chris was married to Sally, a woman only briefly seen in a few episodes. In the penultimate episode of season one, they had their first child, a daughter, named Chloë, a surprise after it was expected to be a boy. In the second season, Sally leaves their Cairns home for a while and takes herself and their daughter to her parents' house in Perth. Chris believed this a precursor to divorce, but it turned out to be a short-lived separation. Sally remains concerned about the stress of trying to raise their daughter in his absence, but they reconfirmed their love for each other during season two.
We don't meet Sally again until the very last episode, but she and Chloe are never far from Chris' mind. This is particularly highlighted when Chris finds himself in a situation where children are involved, or an event arises with could affect his chances of seeing them again.
|Cross of Valour (Australia)|
|Australian Active Service Medal|
|Iraq Medal (Australia)|
|Australian Defence Medal|