Underage for the Navy, Ken Mason enlists in the United States Maritime Service and undergoes radio operator training during the summer after graduating from high school. He is not yet 18.
Currently, Nazi U-boats in a feeding frenzy are sinking dozens of ships along the US East Coast and out to sea. Ken, whose father is a New York admiralty lawyer, has, in his father's words, "run away to sea," survives a convoy run across the Atlantic to England. He ships out again upon returning home.
As the assemblage of ships disappears over the eastern horizon on its way to England, Ken and his shipmates must now face the U-boat menace in the North Atlantic for the second time. His ship, however, becomes damaged during a fierce storm and must drop out of the convoy. Her orders are to return to Halifax, Nova Scotia for repairs without an escort.
Forebodingly, the newly built SS Orion Victory is not alone. Kapitanleutnant Walther Starken, the submarine ace better known to the US Navy's COMEASTSEAFRON as "Iron Cross Wally," commanding U-218, stalks the Victory ship and has her in his periscope's crosshairs.
Starken is pursuing not only Ken's crippled freighter but he's eager to achieve a higher goal: winning the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with the much coveted Eichenlaub or Oak Leaves for merchant shipping tonnage sent to Davy Jones's locker. Sinking the sleek new Orion Victory that is heavily laden with tanks, ordnance, and petroleum products will accomplish just that!