Ralph Rackstraw, a poor seaman, is in love with Josephine, the Captain's daughter, but she is too high above him in the social scale for him to even consider asking her to marry him. Also, he has a rival in the form of Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, the Ruler of the Queen's Navee. Sir Joseph Porter, who is fully aware of his own importance, is an arrogant snob who feels that Josephine is far beneath him on the social scale. However, contemptuous though he feels about this factor, he will overlook the fact that she is just a humble Captain's daughter and that he would therefore be marrying beneath his rank. The Captain is all for his daughter marrying such an illustrious person as Sir Joseph Porter, but Josephine detests the idea. Furthermore, she is in love with poor Ralph Rackstraw.