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At the time the Amitie is captured, Gibbs is first lieutenant on the HMS Reliant. He was not William Laurence's first choice for the position; that was Laurence's friend Tom Riley, the second lieutenant.

After the Amitié is captured, Gibbs is detailed to bring the ship into port and given the job of captaining the prize. Thus, he is not aboard when the officers draw lots for the job of attempting to harness the dragonet that will hatch from the egg (Temeraire) taken from the Amitié.