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The sinking of a United States warship in the Atlantic in 1914 by a German submarine prompts Washington to take special measures to insure that the Germans are kept ignorant of the exact location of Navy vessels sailing the Atlantic. A high-level military meeting results in an agreement to create a convoy system, whereby British destroyers will meet U. S. troop ships at a secret rendezvous location in the Atlantic and escort them safely to the French coast. The plan hinges on a new strategy in which the exact location of the rendezvous will be transmitted at the very last moment to the ships by a wireless code. Major William Brennan, a military cryptologist with three years' experience on the European front, provides the War Department with the new code, which is to be tested on a munitions ship rendezvous before it is used for a troop ship. Meanwhile, at the nearby Park Hotel, the German intelligence headquarters buzzes with espionage acitivity. Bill Gordon, a former newspaperman and author of an invaluable book on military codes, is about to leave for Europe, where he plans to serve his country on the battlefront, when he becomes romantically involved with socialite Joel Carter. The meddling Joel falls in love with the lieutenant and, upon discovery of his expertise in cryptology, arranges to have him transferred to a desk job at the War Department through her uncle, John Carter, who is the Assistant Secretary of War. For Bill, Joel throws over suitor Colonel Nieterstein, who, unknown to her, is loyal to his German fatherland and reads top secret military information over the phone to Dr. R. A. Jackson, a contact in San Diego. One such message alerts the spies as to the exact bearings of a mid-sea Navy rendezvous scheduled for the next day. Aware of the War Department's trial run, Nieterstein advises the Germans not to pursue the munitions-carrying S. S. Dependable , but to wait instead for a bigger pay-off, a troop ship. Bill protests his reassignment to a desk job, but quickly proves his worth when he cracks the German code and learns that the enemy has decoded the Americans' new code and knows about the S. S. Dependable . The military has three days in which to either find the code thieves and retrieve the code, or intercept all future German spy communications. When Brennan suspects that his mistress, Olivia, is an undercover enemy agent, he sets a trap for her, and she falls for it. Fearing for her safety, Olivia kills Brennan but, after reporting the incident to her superiors, is told to sacrifice herself to Army investigators to prevent trouble for Germany. Olivia complies with the order and is captured by Bill, who calls her bluff at a restaurant with a phony deciphered message he says he found in her mailbox. Olivia is about to confess when Joel and Nieterstein show up at their table and interrupt her. Having been slipped a message by another German agent, which says that Nieterstien is to be sacrificed to the U. S. Army in order to give the false impression that it is once again safe to send their ships coded messages, Olivia provides Bill with evidence of Nieterstein's complicity in the espionage ring. Upon his arrest, Nieterstien commits suicide. Bill and Olivia go to the Park Hotel and are followed by the jealous Joel, who is taken hostage by members of the German intelligence network. The agents use Joel as a bargaining tool to force Bill, who has also been captured, to decode the latest rendezvous location. Bill translates the code and is then granted a private meeting with Joel, which is interrupted by a spray of bullets from a machine gun. Bill and Joel manage to escape death and overpower their would-be assassins just as Department of Justice agents arrive. The authorities, having been tipped off by Bill's encoded message, arrest the spies and send orders to arrest Dr. Jackson in San Diego. As promised by Carter, Bill is granted permission to fight in Europe, but just as his train is about to leave, his reassignment to a local desk job arrives.