Captain Bellew (Victor McLaglen) is a blustering skipper of a rescue tug that makes its living by salvaging ships in distress off the northern Spanish coast. To help beat off the competition Bellew hires the tough and rugged Abel Hewson (Stanley Baker) as First Mate. Bellew meanwhile becomes besotted with the beautiful young woman Josita (Luciana Paluzzi), the daughter of an ambitious local man who has designs on Bellews wealth. Josita in turn falls for the handsome Hewson and the inevitable love triangle develops. One of Bellew's established crew members, Gorman (Robert Shaw), resentful of the quick ascent of Hewson, discovers Josita and Hewson's relationship and informs his Captain. Before the two men can resolve their conflict over Josita a ship is reported in distress and the crew must once again race against the rival Dutch tug to reach the wreckage first and lay claim to it.