Because more suitable candidates have been sent away on other prizes, a young midshipman is placed in command of a captured armed enemy brig by his father, Captain John Phillips, commanding HMS Resolve. Given the temporary ranking of master’s mate, Mister Tim Phillips is to bring the vessel safely to the remainder of the squadron on blockade duty off the mouth of the Tagus.
On the way however, he manages to defeat and take an enemy vessel more powerful than his own. Impressed, the admiral commanding the squadron informs him that, while he cannot promote the under-aged Phillips, he will purchase the brig into the fleet to use as a dispatch vessel, leaving Phillips in command as Master’s Mate.
Phillips must oversee putting his new brig into commission and obtain a crew. The tasks assigned him by the Royal Navy will test his abilities.