Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy


A Bluenoser born in New Waterford, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1967, Vice-Admiral Art McDonald became Chief of the Naval Staff and assumed command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) 12 June 2019, becoming the thirty-sixth CRCN in the RCN’s 109 years. Prior to his appointment as CRCN, VAdm McDonald commanded at the ship (HMCS Halifax 2007-2009), Operations Group / Fleet (Maritime Operations Group Five 2010-2011), and Formation (Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific 2016-2018) levels.

After completing basic Naval Warfare Officer training and then becoming an Above Water Warfare specialist in the early nineties, he spent most of the next two-decades as a sea-going officer while serving in HMC Ships VancouverHalifaxMontreal, and Calgary, with the Canadian Fleet Pacific staff, as Executive Officer in Regina 2003-2005, and as Commanding Officer in Halifax 2007-2009. In so doing, he deployed repeatedly – including three Arabian Gulf and one Adriatic Sea tours – and also circumnavigated the globe (Calgary, 1995). As a Capt(N), he was the Maritime Component Commander of Canadian Joint Task Force (Haiti), leading sea-based humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He then commanded a seven-ship combined, multi-national Task Group in the High Arctic later in 2010 during the annual Op NANOOK. Later, as a RAdm, he also led the CAF’s recurring Op LENTUS responses to historic fires and floods in BC while commanding Joint Task Force Pacific 2016-2018.

As a staff officer, VAdm McDonald served four tours on the Naval Staff in National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. In addition to service as Deputy Commander RCN 2018-2019, he was Director General Naval Force Development (DGNFD) 2013-2016, Director Naval Requirements (DNR) 2012-2013, and Executive Secretary to the Chief of the Maritime Staff 2005-2007.

A 1990 graduate of the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Military and Strategic Studies and a Masters of Defence Studies, VAdm McDonald is also a graduate of the 2003 Canadian Forces College (CFC) Command and Staff Course, the 2012 CFC National Security Studies Programme, and the 2014 US GOFO Capstone Program. A 2016 alumnus of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, he is also a graduate of the Senior Executives in National and International Security program at Harvard University (2017).