Horatio's narrative in this film follows a similar course, pitting his sense of duty against his conscience. Lacking the information which Pellew has, he has no idea of the dubious nature of the mission upon which they have embarked. He soon learns, however, as Moncoutant and the French revolutionaries between them manage to destroy all his illusions.
In the end, Pellew tells Hornblower that, as officers in the British navy, they have a duty to their king and country, but also to those under their command. This is what the top brass at the Admiralty forgot- that, as Horatio remarked in 'The Fire Ships', their duty "also lies with the lives of the men."