The Quarter deck of an 18th Century Royal Navy warship was not a place one would expect to see much in the way of racial diversity. Despite this, at least one black man enjoyed a career as an officer that spanned 30 years. He even commanded a number of sloops, schooners and frigates.
His name was John Perkins (1745-1812) nicknamed Jack Punch.
He rose from obscurity to be one of the most successful ship captains of the Georgian Navy. His obituary in the Navy Chronicle described his actions while in command of the schooner Punch:
"He annoyed the enemy more than any other officer, by his repeated feats of gallantry, and the immense number of prizes he took.."
Futher reading on John Perkins can be found