Malta 1941. To most people H.M.S. Saracen is just an ugly, obsolete ship with an equally ugly recent history: her last commander is due for court-martial after shelling the troops he was sent to protect.
But to Captain Richard Chesnaye she brings back memories - memories of the First World War when he and the old monitor went through the Gallipoli campaign together. It seems that captain and ship are both past their best. But as the war enters a new phase Chesnaye senses the possibility of a fresh, significant role - for him and the Saracen.