Gary Cooper stars in this broad naval farce, directed by Henry Hathaway and based upon a John W. Hazard New Yorker magazine story. Cooper plays Lieutenant John Harkness, a wet-behind-the ears naval lieutenant who is given command of his first ship. Unfortunately, not only is Harkness new to commanding a naval vessel, but the crew and his subordinate officers are also new at their jobs. Only two old deck hands know the score. And, while Harkness is trying to figure out naval protocol, he also has to deal with the contraption in the engine room, which turns out to be an elaborate steam engine that powers the ship.