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In the starting scene of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when Governer Swann, Norrington and Elizabeth finds the young boy Will turner, Mr. Gibbs is working on that ship. He was talking to Elizabeth, like he knows her from at a least few days.

However, later in the movie , Gibbs is shown to be part of the pirate crew and a friend of Jack Sparrow.

What he was is doing on the Royal ship at that point of time?

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There was gap of eight years in between the opening scene and the rest of the movie. The most probable explanation is that Mr Gibbs was an honest sailor who befriended Jack Sparrow and turned to piracy for reasons unexplained in the intervening period of time.

Also worth noting that being a pirate wasn't always a black and white matter. Sometimes privateer vessels (authorized by their home nation to attack and claim ships of enemy nations) ended up being declared pirates because the laws and/or political landscape changed while they were at sea.

Nothing like that is suggested regarding Mr Gibbs in the movie, of course, but the point is there are lots of reasons why a man who engages in the pirate lifestyle might find himself serving on a legitimate naval vessel.

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Following dialogue happened between Ex(pelled)-Commodore Norrington and Mr. Gibbs in Dead Man's Chest when former approaches to sign aboard Black Pearl to latter. Duration is 01:08:26 --> 01:08:36

Gibbs: And what's your story?

Norrington: My story.

Norrington: It's exactly the same as your story, just one chapter behind.

From this we can infer that at some point Mr. Gibbs got involved with pirates in unlawful manner and got expelled from Royal Navy. After which he chose to be with pirates. Whereas Norrington was still sober enough hence one chapter behind.

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