A Bluenoser born in New Waterford, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1967, Vice-Admiral (VAdm) Art McDonald became Chief of the Naval Staff and assumed command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on June 12, 2019, becoming the thirty-sixth Commander of the RCN (CRCN) in the RCN’s 109 years. Prior to his appointment as CRCN, VAdm McDonald commanded at the ship (HMCS Halifax from 2007 to 2009), Operations Group / Fleet (Maritime Operations Group Five from 2010 to 2011), and Formation (Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific from 2016 to 2018) levels.
After completing basic Naval Warfare Officer training and 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 Vancouver, Halifax, Montréal, and Calgary, with the Canadian Fleet Pacific staff, as Executive Officer in HMCS Regina from 2003 to 2005, and as Commanding Officer in HMCS Halifax from 2007 to 2009. In so doing, he deployed repeatedly – including three tours on the Arabian Gulf and one on the Adriatic Sea – and also circumnavigated the globe (HMCS Calgary, 1995). As Captain (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 Rear Admiral, he also led the Canadian Armed Forces’ recurring Op LENTUS responses to historic fires and floods in British Columbia while commanding Joint Task Force Pacific from 2016 to 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 of the RCN from 2018 to 2019, he was Director General Naval Force Development from 2013 to 2016, Director Naval Requirements from 2012 to 2013, and Executive Secretary to the Chief of the Maritime Staff from 2005 to 2007.
A 1990 graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada who holds a bachelor’s degree in Military and Strategic Studies and a Master of Defence Studies degree, 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 U.S. CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course. 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).