Captain(N) Richard Gravel was born in St. Lambert, Quebec, and raised and educated in Mississauga and Burlington, Ontario, and then in the town of Baie d'Urfé in the west island area of Montreal.
On graduation from MacDonald High School
in St. Anne de Bellevue in 1979, he
initial officer training in Chilliwack, BC, and attended le College militaire royal de St. Jean (CMR) and then the Royal Military College of Canada
(RMC) in Kingston, graduating in 1984 with a BEng in Computer Engineering.
In addition, Capt(N) Gravel received his Master of Defence Studies from the Canadian Defence Academy in 2002.
MARS and MARE phase training during his
summers between academic years at CMR and RMC
in HMC Ships Qu'Appelle, Yukon and MacKenzie.
He then continued Combat Systems Engineering training at Fleet School in Halifax, and completed his technical and Head of Department training and qualifications onboard HMC Ships Restigouche and Kootenay on the West Coast in 1987.
Following a posting to the Naval Engineering Unit in Halifax, Capt(N) Gravel was appointed as the Combat Systems Engineering Officer of HMCS Saguenay, and then of HMCS Nipigon.
He was then promoted to lieutenant-commander in 1992 and became the Fleet Combat Systems Engineering Officer for Destroyer Squadrons One and Five.
Capt(N) Gravel was then posted to the Tribal Class Update and Modernisation Project, where he was officer in charge of the Command and Control System Training with Industry Programme at Litton Systems Limited in Toronto, and oversaw the move of the Combat Systems Training Centre from Toronto to Esquimalt.
In November 1994, Capt(N) Gravel left the West Coast and for an exchange with the Royal Navy, assuming the position of Action Information Organization Section Head at Captain Weapons Trials and Acceptance in Portsmouth, England.
Returning from England in early 1998, he was posted to National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, where he served in several positions within the Director General Maritime Equipment and Program Management division, including Project Manager for the Year 2000 Ship Systems project.
This posting to NDHQ culminated as Section Head for Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Navigation within the Directorate of Maritime Ship Support in 2001.
Promoted to commander in 2001, he completed Command and Staff Course 28 in June 2002 at the CFC.
Capt(N) Gravel was then appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Engineering Operations at Maritime Forces Atlantic in Halifax, following which he assumed the duties as the Task Group Technical Officer to the Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic.
In September 2005, Capt(N) Gravel
sailed with the Canadian Task Group consisting of HMC Ships Athabaskan, Toronto and Ville de Québec, and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander, as part of Operation Unison in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in the New Orleans and Gulf of Mexico areas.
He remained on the ground at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, when the naval ships of the Task Group returned to Canada and was appointed Commander of the National Command Element, a rare operational command appointment for an engineering officer.
In the summer of 2006, he
was promoted to his
current rank and posted as a Director of Senior and Strategic Programmes at the CFC
In July 2007, Capt(N) Gravel was appointed Chief of Staff.
Capt(N) Gravel is married to Sandra Buckler, the Prime Minister's Director of Communications.