Engineering parts need to be taken to Scuttlebutt Pete, the dredger so he can start work early in the morning. Ten Cents is ordered to take on the job, as he is the first tug to return to the Star Dock. He delivers the barge loaded with goods, and after encountering Zip and Zug, who tell him to dock it there, moors the barge, noticing a mysterious figure moving in an old warehouse. Sunshine arrives and the two head back to the Star Dock.
That foggy night, a stranger to Bigg City Port hooks and steals Ten Cents' barge. Zip and Zug surprisingly discover it is missing the next morning, and are sure that Ten Cents has stolen it. They head out and confront Ten Cents, even though he states he delivered the barge. Zug tells Captain Star, who tells them how he has already received a complaint from the client, then sends Zip and Zug to work. He then speaks sternly to Ten Cents about the matter. Ten Cents tried to explain that he had delivered the parts, but Captain Star doesn't believe him and sends him to do dredger detail as punishment.
As Ten Cents delivers a dredger barge to Scuttlebutt Pete, he tells him that he heard Ten Cents's barge is missing. Grampus, the midget submarine, pops up. He says how he has heard the whole story as well, which Ten Cents certainly does not find amusing. Zak and Zebedee happen to come by and taunt Ten Cents. Sunshine, who has just arrived, informs Ten Cents that Captain Star as another job for him, which is more work with the Z-Stacks, much to Ten Cents's fury. Ten Cents must tow an oil barge. After more taunting from Zak and Zebedee, who also claim him a thief, he heads off, annoyed.
That night, Grampus cannot sleep due to the loud music coming from the Bridge Café Band, and decides to mosey round the harbour. He encounters an unknown tug who stole the barge the previous night, which Ten Cents was blamed for. Grampus barely avoids being rammed by the tug and resurfaces to see he is stealing Ten Cents' oil barge. He loses the thief in the mist and worries who it could be. Through the night, even more barges disappear.
The next morning, a big meeting is held between the Star Fleet and the Z-Stacks at the Star Dock on how to try and catch the “pirate”. While the tug teams complain about working with each other and about Ten Cents, Captain Star and Captain Zero have come up with a plan, which will see all the tugs going out in pairs, to camp out in designated areas with barges filled with flare that will go off if touched, and try and spot and catch the Pirate.
Meanwhile, Grampus is searching where he lost the Pirate the night before. He sees an old warehouse that hasn't been used in years and goes inside. The “pirate” tug named Sea Rogue, is being ordered by two sinister, green-eyed tugs to steal another barge. He must do so to keep his uncle from being scuttled. Grampus sees and hears everything, luckily not being spotted.
That night, Captain Star and Captain Zero’s big plan is put into action. Top Hat and Warrior are paired together, as are Zip and Zug. Ten Cents and Sunshine are paired together also. Sunshine is comforting Ten Cents to not listen to the Z-Stacks, when Grampus suddenly emerges from the water and reports them of what he had seen. Their so called “Pirate” is Sea Rogue, who is being blackmailed to steal the barges or else his uncle sinks. Ten Cents and Sunshine are very surprised. With no time to explain to the others, they decide to find Sea Rogue before anyone else does, and Grampus submerges, telling Ten Cents and Sunshine to follow him. Zip and Zug see Ten Cents and Sunshine leaving their post, and Zug comes to the conclusion that Ten Cents is up to something, feeling vindicated in saying Ten Cents should not be trusted. Zug moves to follow on after them and order Zip to stay close.
Ten Cents, Sunshine, and Grampus hide by the old warehouse, waiting for Sea Rogue, and have seen the villains re enter their hideout with their plans. As soon as Sea Rogue rolls through, Ten Cents springs into action and rams Sea Rogue against a pier, but he then quickly explains how they are already aware of what is really going on and he agrees to help them find his uncle. Sea Rogue hears Zip and Zug coming and guides the other three away to hide. Ten Cents, knowing Zip and Zug will go into the warehouse, comes up with a plan and tells Grampus to wait by the warehouse entrance to wait for the villains to leave in order to save Sea Rogue's uncle.
Zip and Zug approach and enter the old warehouse, thinking Ten Cents is in there, where they find the stolen barges, which makes them very pleased with themselves. Their victory is short-lived as the green-eyed tugs' lights come on, scaring and threatening the two Z-Stacks switchers with the presence of not just one but two pirates, and they quickly back out of the warehouse. As the villains chase Zip and Zug towards where Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue are, Grampus goes to save Sea Rogue's uncle, and Ten Cents waits for the right time to strike. As soon as Ten Cents gives the go ahead, he, Sunshine and Sea Rogue charge toward the pirate tugs, and knock their green lights out once and for all. Warrior sees that something is going on. Not paying attention and to Top Hat's warnings, he bumps into the flare barge, causing it to go off.
The next morning, a slightly singed Warrior and Top Hat tow the villains away, Grampus goes off for a nice rest, and Sea Rogue and his uncle thank Ten Cents and Sunshine for their help and head for home at Up River. Ten Cents and Sunshine are sad to see the two tugs leave, and Ten Cents thanks Grampus for his help. Zip and Zug are nearby with more explosive fire barges, as Ten Cents and Sunshine teasingly joke about them helping out with the trap, they boast to the Star switchers that nothing scares them. Zug then clumsily backs towards a flare barge behind him; Zip tries to warn him, but it's too late. The flares go off, causing both Z-Stacks switchers to run away in fright, which Ten Cents and Sunshine find a great joke.
The VHS opening credits for the twenty minute versions of episodes show a deleted scene from this episode: A close up of Ten Cents at night.
There are some scenes included in the TV version of this episode that are not shown in the VHS version. The scenes are:
Sea Rogue entering the harbour.
Ten Cents charging towards Sea Rogue.
A close up of one of the stolen barges.
A close up of Sea Rogue's uncle inside the warehouse.
Two scenes of Ten Cents and Sunshine in the morning.
Other differences from the VHS version included the following:
After Grampus leaves his dock, the music plays whilst Captain Star is finishing narrating. The music isn't heard in the VHS version until Captain Star has finished speaking.
In the TV version, as Grampus dives to avoid Sea Rogue running into him, Captain Star has a line of narration that's not heard in the VHS version: "Grampus submerged fast to avoid being rammed and surfaced again in time to see it was the barge thief!"
Captain Star says in the VHS version "Grampus lost the barge snatcher in the mist, and spent the rest of the night worrying who it could be." and "Next morning, I told Captain Zero Stars and Z-Stacks had to get together on this.". In the TV version, Captain Star says "Grampus lost the thief in the mist. Next morning, I called an urgent meeting with Captain Zero.". Also, the scenes of Sea Rogue taking the other barges are not included in the TV version, neither is Captain Star's dialogue: "And all that time, the thief was busy, and other barges were disappearing."
Zorran saying "We're wasting time! Ten Cents' barges the only ones gone!" and Captain Star saying "Quiet! We've decided to set a trap!" is different between the two versions. Also, in the TV version, Captain Star adds "Captain Zero?"
When Grampus is inside the warehouse, he says: "Looks like a problem." This line is less audible in the VHS Version.
In the VHS version, after Grampus leaves the warehouse, Captain Star says "That night, the plan to catch the pirate was put into action." In the TV version, he says "That night, the plan to catch the thief was put into action. The triggered barges were put in places where he might steal them, and a flare would be set off."
Ten Cents says: "Well, let's get the Pirate!" He'll be sorry he crossed me, I'll tell ya!" in the director's cut. In the TV Version, he says: "Let's get that Pirate! He'll be sorry he crossed me, I'll tell ya!"
In the TV version, when Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue charge for the pirates, Captain Star says "The tugs and Sea Rogue came hard at the villains from all sides. They were surrounded."
In the VHS version, after Sea Rogue and his uncle head off, Hercules arrives and tells Ten Cents and Sunshine that they did a good job and that Captain Star is sorry for not believing Ten Cents about the missing barges. He also congratulates Ten Cents, Sunshine and Grampus. After Hercules has finished talking, Grampus says "Thanks, Hercules. Well, I'm off to get some rest." In the TV Version, Hercules does not appear, so Grampus says "Bye, Ten Cents, Sunshine. I'm off to get some rest."
Ten Cents and Sunshine swap lines at the end of the TV version when they say "They move pretty fast when they're not scared, eh." and "They certainly do!". This version also has an ending message from Captain Star, "It goes to show that you shouldn't be fooled by appearances. Just because Sea Rogue wore a black patch didn't mean he must be a pirate."
A lot of scenes were also cut from the TV version:
Zip and Zug taunting Ten Cents for always working and being uptight.
Ten Cents thinking he must be hearing things.
Sea Rogue backing up in his hideout at the old quay.
Ten Cents arguing with Zip and Zug after Zug says that they will get the blame for the barge not being there.
Scuttlebutt Pete grunting and saying he was only trying to help, as well as Ten Cents' subsequent outburst.
Grampus remarking on the creepiness of the harbour at night, seeing Sea Rogue moving, and deciding to check it out.
Captain Star telling Zorran to be silent.
Zip and Zug at the meeting, continuing their accusations of Ten Cents' involvement in the situation before Big Mac and Warrior force them to knock it off.
Captain Star saying "I said silence. Captain Zero and me have had a meeting. Missing barges is serious. We're going to get to the bottom of it, understand? Captain Zero?"
Captain Zero announcing that he has a scheme to catch the pirate, Top Hat and Big Mac insulting him for the irony of Captain Zero catching a crook, and Zorran taking offense to Top Hat and Big Mac's insults.
Grampus determining that the place he is searching is the same place from the night before.
Top Hat and Warrior being paired up in the nighttime stakeout for the pirate and having banter.
Sunshine saying "I'm sure Captain Star believes you. Don't pay any attention to the Z-Stacks, they're troublemakers rubbing you up the wrong way" and Ten Cents replying "I don't care about them, it's our gang! They can't be sure it's not me."
The shots of Sunshine saying "Well, we'll catch the thief tonight! With any luck!" and Ten Cents replying "Yeah, we might, we might not", which are replaced by shots of Zip and Zug at their hideout.
Zip and Zug being paired up in the nighttime stakeout for the pirate and having banter, replaced by Zip trying to get Zug's attention and Zug saying "Quiet! You'll give us away!", which is moved up from later in the VHS version.
The green-eyed tugs planning their escape, like covering up Lillie Lightship, putting out lights in lighthouses, and muffling Philbert the bell buoy so they wouldn't be seen or heard when they sailed off with their loot.
Sea Rogue, Ten Cents and Sunshine's dialogue as Sea Rogue approaches and is heard coming.
Part of Ten Cents and Sea Rogue's conversation before Sea Rogue hears Zip and Zug coming.
Ten Cents and Sunshine peering around the pier to hear Zug saying "Just a quick look" and Zip saying "No, Zug! Let's go back!", as well Ten Cents and Sunshine moving back from that position as Ten Cents says "Right, now get ready to spring the trap when I say" and Sunshine replies "Okay."
The shot of Warrior shaking his head after setting off the flare, as well as Ten Cents' joke: "Don't bump 'em too hard, Warrior! They might send up a flare too!"
Sea Rogue affirming Ten Cents' guess that he and his uncle are heading up river, Sea Rogue thanking Ten Cents, Ten Cents saying it was the least he could do, and Sea Rogue whistling.
A close-up of Sunshine as he asks Zip and Zug if they weren't just a little bit scared.
In the Japanese version, the beginning is a bit altered, with scenes such as Captain Star telling Ten Cents to go to Scuttlebutt Pete and the music in those scenes is lower than the original version.
This episode marks the first time underwater footage is used (although it is too dark to see). The second time is in "Quarantine."
This episode marks the first time a tug is seen out of the water. The second time is in "Trapped."
This episode marks the first time the Star Fleet's logo is shown.
At the start of the director's cut, Zug remarks "All work and no play makes Ten Cents a dull tug." This is a play on the words, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", a phrase used to describe a person who becomes bored and boring without time off from work.
Although Pirate was first broadcast in 1989, the director's cut was released on VHS in 1988.
This episode and "Sunshine" are the only two that are twenty minutes long in Japan.
The Japanese title of this episode is "Fearsome and Loathsome Pirate Ship".
This was the third episode filmed.
In three scenes, Ten Cents is missing his number and hooter.
When Zak and Zebedee pass Ten Cents smoke is coming out of the base of Zak's smokestack.
Ten Cents is smiling after Zak and Zebedee tease him for the first time and after Sunshine says, "Leave 'em Tents Cents, Captain Star's got another job for you."
The scenes panning through the harbour at night are supposedly taken from Grampus' point of view when he goes for a spin. In the TV version, the shot where Grampus passes the white sailboat cuts straight to where he encounters Sea Rogue heading straight towards him.
When Grampus surfaces after nearly being rammed, he has a small stub on his front where his two sides taper together, just as he does in the latter half of Regatta, in Munitions, in Quarantine, and in Ghosts. This is inconsistent with the rest of this episode, in which he lacks it. It is only present in this one shot.
When Ten Cents corners Sea Rogue, the two do not actually collide, yet Sea Rogue still shifts. This is because of the chassis the tugs are placed on. Likewise, The Pirates do not come in contact with Ten Cents, Sunshine and Sea Rogue later on.
When Warrior sees that something is happening, he is looking in the wrong direction.
When Warrior hits the barge, his hat jumps up a little.
When Top Hat and Warrior tows the pirates away, the pirates' green lights are missing.
The back cover of the single Japanese VHS release features a deleted scene from Sunshine, but that episode is not included.