Believed to be son of Charles III, King of Spain, Gravina was of noble Sicilian origin. Educated at the Academy of the Marine Guard at Cartagena, he went to sea at the age of 12, beginning his career fighting Barbary pirates. In the period 1779-1782 he was present at the Spanish blockade of Gibraltar. In 1782 he was promoted to command the Santissima Trinidad and fought against Lord Howe at the battle of Cape Spartel. In 1793, as second in command of the Spanish fleet, Gravina served alongside Hood in the capture of Toulon in 1793. During the period of French Spanish alliance he provided protection for the forces sailing to Santo Domingo. In 1804 he was sent as the representative of the Spanish government in France, and he was to be present at Napoleon's coronation (he appears on David's famous painting) as ambassador for the Queen of Etruria. As captain general of the Spanish naval forces in 1805 he joined Villeneuve in Cadiz. At the battle of El Ferrol on 22nd July Gravina with his 6 Spanish ships formed the vanguard of the Franco-Spanish fleet and had to fight the British fleet under Sir Robert Calder. Gravina's ships gave and received the greatest punishment. Indeed, two Spanish ships were captured by Calder. He later took part in the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October, 1805, where he commanded the observation squadron. His ship, the Principe de Asturias was dismasted and he was mortally wounded, dying of gangrene on 9th March 1806. Gravina is now buried in the Panteon de Marinos lllustres, San Fernando, Cadiz.