“SINGAPORE, 1948.” A man walks through a building asking if they’ve seen the man in the picture. When he finds the man, he’s lying on the ground, half conscious with a scraggly beard. He identified his friend as “Freddy.”The Gist: “1939. Bergen. Seven months before the German occupation of Norway.” Alfred “Freddy” Garnes (Kristoffer Joner) and his friend Sigbjørn “Wally” Kvalvåg (Pål Sverre Hagen) work on the local docks, but paying gigs are scarce; the two have worked one day in the past three weeks. There is work to be had, but it’s on a merchant ship sailing to New York, which will take both of them away from home for 18 months.

For Wally, who’s single, the decision is easy, but it’s tougher for Freddy, who is leaving his wife Cecilia (Ine Marie Wilmann) and 3 kids behind. But he has to make money somewhere. His daughter, seeing stories of the Germans sinking Norwegian ships in the Atlantic, thinks it’s unsafe for him to go, but Freddy ensures her he won’t be going where the Germans are.

A year later, they’re on the ship, and they’re spending almost as much time saving fellow sailors who have abandoned ships destroyed by the Germans than actually moving. Freddy wants the ship to stop and save people in the water, but his captain tells him that staying still makes them an easy target for German subs. The captain also has other news: The Norwegian government wants the merchant ships to help in the war effort, shipping material to the British. Anyone scheduled to go home has to stay, with no timeframe as to when they can return.

Freddy and Wally aren’t exactly happy to be drafted into a war effort, but they decide that they’ll do it for the people in Norway and the kids in England, not for the “fat pigs in white shirts” that ordered them into this predicament.

Because of this involuntary draft, money hasn’t been flowing home to German-occupied Bergen, and Freddy’s family has been selling wood to get by.

Wally, Freddy, cook Hannah Wiig (Alexandra Gjerpen), a 15 year-old sailor named Aksel (Leon Tobias Slettbakk), and a few other crew members transfer off the ship in Liverpool in 1941. Shortly after the crew of their former ship departs, it’s sunk by the Germans, with everyone aboard perishing. But it won’t be long before they, too are in danger, as we see Wally and Freddy trying to save people from being pulled out of a massive hole in their ship’s hull. They limp to safety in Malta in 1942, shellshocked and weary.

We then cut to New York in 1944, where the crew is loading armaments onto their new ship. Everyone except Hannah and an Aksel, who are going home, are ordered to keep loading the ship in order to join a caravan. But when Freddy and Wally are told that the last caravan lost two-thirds of its ships, their dedication to this task starts to more than waver.