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Patricia Marshall, ace reporter, greets her wedding day with trepidation because during her twelve previous attempts to get married, her fiancé, government agent Allan Harper, has been called from the altar at the last minute. History repeats itself when just before the wedding, Allan is summoned to a meeting with his boss, Inspector Clark. At headquarters, Allan and his co- worker, Tommy Baker, are handed an envelope containing sealed orders and told to sail at four o'clock in the morning. When Pat learns that her wedding is to be postponed again, she realizes that there must be a sensational story in Allan's emergency call. Trailing him in a taxi to the docks, Pat watches Allan leave his cab with Tom handcuffed as his prisoner while armed guards swarm around the pier entrance. Although Pat flashes her press card, the guards refuse her entrance, but with the help of a police sergeant, she hides in an ambulance that is about to be loaded onto the waiting ship. The ship's cargo consists of malevolent convicts and spies culled from state and federal penitentiaries around the country and designated by the United States government for deportation. Tom is herded in with the other prisoners and penned in a brig lined with solid steel. It soon becomes obvious to Tom that a man named Condor has assumed leadership of the convicts, although his authority is being challenged by Ernst Madek, another prisoner. Meanwhile, in the captain's cabin, Allan and Captain Randall open their sealed orders and are instructed to proceed to a point six hours and thirty-two minutes west of Lisbon. After the ship's radio operator picks up strange signals emanating from the ambulance, Pat is discovered hiding inside the vehicle and the captain forbids her to go below decks. When a fight breaks out among the prisoners, Wasserman, one of them, is injured and taken to the captain's cabin for first aid. In reality, Wasserman is conspiring with Condor to escape from their confinement. Because there is no doctor on board, Allan sends for Madek, who was once a practicing physician. Madek uses the opportunity to steal some drugs from the ship's medicine cabinet and gives them to Rader, another prisoner, who combines them with mercury from a thermometer and sulphur from some matches to produce a bomb. After blasting open the bulkhead door with the bomb, Rader and the others imprison the guards and take Allan and the captain to the boiler room, where they are forced to shovel coal. When Allan decides that their only salvation is to reach the ambulance housing Pat's radio to send a message for help, the captain puts a boiler out of commission, thus allowing Allan to escape through its smokestack. Upon reaching the deck, Allan arms himself and heads for the ambulance. Meanwhile, Madek overthrows Condor and orders Pat to send a message to his comrades. After decoding the reply, Pat instructs Madek to meet a convoy "six hours and thirty-two minutes west of Lisbon." When the ship reaches this point, it is met by a convoy of American destroyers, which, having been alerted by Allan, seize control of the ship from the prisoners. Allan then sends Pat home on a destroyer and continues his mission. When Allan returns to New York, a determined Pat is waiting for him with a tattered marriage license, a preacher and two roughnecks from the circulation department of her paper.