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Captain Biff Brown, an old salt with a hair-trigger temper and a flawless maritime record, runs the Southern Cross , one of the tightest ships in San Francisco Bay. So impressive is his record, that Biff has been commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to ferry convicts from San Francisco to the federal penitentiary of Alcatraz Island. Those familiar with the ship and its fateful destination commonly refer to it as the "Devil Ship." One day, as the vessel is about to leave San Francisco for Alcatraz, a package containing saws is found by police inspectors. The saws have been hidden on the ship by its engineer, who is in the employ of East Coast gang leader Red Mason. The six convicts going on the Southern Cross to Alcatraz are Mason's men, and he is determined to free them in order to get the $200,000 in stolen loot they still have. While the police make their discovery, Biff is visiting with Madge Harris, a widow who is in love with him, and who runs the boardinghouse where he lives. The following day, Biff is told of the discovery of the saws and his contract with the Bureau of Prisons is abruptly terminated. Biff is heartbroken about the end of his perfect record, but at the urging of his friend, Captain Sanderson, he decides to return to the tuna fishing business. Many area fishermen are familiar with Biff's reputation as a hard-nosed captain and refuse to sign on with him, but in the end, he manages to assemble a marginal crew, including two disgruntled sailors from the Southern Cross who earlier had tried to attack him. Before leaving on his fishing expedition, Biff introduces Madge to Sanderson, who, once alone with Madge steals a kiss from her. Although Madge is intrigued by Sanderson, she slaps him for the impropriety. Out at sea, both Sanderson and Biff's ships make record catches, but on the return journey a storm capsizes Sanderson's ship. Biff rescues Sanderson from the wreckage, but the rest of Sanderson's crew perishes. Back at the boardinghouse, as Biff is about to propose to Madge, he sees Sanderson and Madge in an embrace. Biff still proposes to Madge, but she tells him that she is torn in her affections between him and Sanderson. Mason, meanwhile, has succeeded in freeing his convicts from Alcatraz and plans to have them stow away on Biff's ship on its next trip to Panama. To ensure the success of the plan, Mason himself joins the men on board Biff's ship. When Mason and his thugs are discovered by the ship's cook, they decide to take the ship by force. A battle for control of the ship ensues, resulting in a serious injury to Sanderson and the sinking of the vessel. Biff, however, manages to get Sanderson onto the lifeboat and back to shore with him. Before dying, Sanderson tells the police all about Mason, and Biff is exonerated. Although Biff is offered his charter back, his first concern is to break the news about Sanderson to Madge. Madge is saddened by the news, but she confesses to Biff that she had decided earlier that he was the one she wanted to marry.