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Morale aboard a U. S. Navy cargo ship worsens when the hated Captain Morton refuses Bruno, a radio operator, permission to attend the funeral of his infant daughter. Later, Bruno tries to kill the captain, but Ensign Pulver wrests the gun from him, and the captain falls overboard during the fight. Pulver grudgingly dives in after him and maneuvers him into a life raft, but they are separated from the ship when a storm arises and presumed lost. Meanwhile, the ship's doctor institutes a new regime; he grants Bruno a shore leave, and morale picks up. On the life raft, the captain becomes ill, and as his condition worsens he becomes delerious. He reveals his past, which he believes causes his antisocial, brutish behavior, while Pulver takes notes. They land on a small island, and there Pulver, working under radioed instructions from the ship's doctor, performs an appendectomy on the captain. When they are returned to the ship, the captain becomes tyrannical again, but Pulver reveals that he knows enough about the captain's past to institute serious action against him, and he threatens to do so unless the captain has himself transferred to another ship. The captain agrees, and Pulver becomes a hero to the crew.