HMS Courageous, an eighteen pounder, 36 gun frigate, would soon be leaving Portsmouth for duty with the Channel Fleet. Ostensibly, she has come in to port to take aboard some experimental 36 pounder carronades, but the main reason was to determine how some secret documents captured from French sources were exposed to public scrutiny.
Captain John Phillips, commanding the frigate, will take her out to re-join the fleet blockading French naval forces in their ports. While on this duty, he is seriously wounded and there is a question whether he can remain in service as an active-duty officer.
Taking a wife, he and his bride sail to America, where he purchases a small merchant vessel, and contemplates going into the shipping business. An encounter with a French privateer and later discussions with Admiralty officials bring him back to his true calling. Captain John Phillips will continue earning fame and fortune from the King’s enemies.