In 1734 he took service on the galleys of the order of Malta, and in 1740 entered the service of France, beingpromoted to chief of squadron In 1779. He took part in the naval operations of the American War of Independence, and distinguished himself in the battles of Dominica and Saint Lucia (1780), and of Tobago (1781). He was less fortunate at St Kitts, where he was defeated by Admiral Hood. Shortly afterwards, in April 1782, he was defeated and taken prisoner by Admiral Rodney. Some months later he returned to France, published a Mémoire justificatif, and was acquitted by a court-martial (1784).
His son Alexandre de Grasse, published a Notice biographique sur l'amiral comte de Grasse d'après les documents inédits in 1840. See G Lacour-Gayet, La Marine militaire de la France sous le règne de Louis XV (Paris, 1902).