In this, the eighth volume, of the War at Sea series, Commander Timothy Phillips RN, finds himself on the beach in Britain. He has returned from a cruise in the Baltic where he has taken some valuable prizes, and is now waiting on necessary repairs to his ship, HMS Alert. While visiting the family estate, the ship takes fire and is consumed.
A patron in the Admiralty, realizing the difficulty was no fault of young Phillips, gives him command of a Cruizer class gunbrig. He is tasked to take the vessel on a mission to the Eastern Mediterranean, in an effort to discover the location of the wife of a prominent government official who has been taken by Moorish pirates.
Issues developed in this undertaking which were necessary to be kept under wraps. It being deemed necessary to keep the young officer away from the press, it was decided to send him on a long voyage to Africa and the East Indies to suppress piracy. Returning to Britain months later, these issues still persist so the officer repairs to the countryside, where he purchases an estate. His continuing adventures will be related in a later volume.