O'Brian had based Aubrey on the life of Thomas Cochrane, a daring frigate commander who had risen to prominence when HMS Speedy.
Defence Minister Robert Hill said last week shortly after visiting Anzac frigate HMAS Stuart, now patrolling just off southern Iraq.
A navy frigate was at the scene and was about to rescue the refugees.
The upgrade and refit of frontline guided missile frigates has left the navy with vessels no more capable than when they started.
Australian frigate involved in tense stand-off with six Iranian gunboats while guarding Iraq's vital oil platforms.