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By 2179, he held the rank of commander, and the newly promoted Captain Ikushima choose DePalma as his first officer on the USS Benjamin Franklin. Their first mission was to apprehend a pirate named "Billy Devil". Ikushima defeated a fleet of pirate vessels in Sol's asteroid belt, called the Battle of the Belt, but was unable to capture the pirate who committed suicide by destroying his own ship. (TNG novel: The Haunted Starship)