Commander Christopher Biggins – Captain of the Omani sail training ship SHABAB OMAN

Shabab Oman

Christopher Biggins, captain of the Omani national sail training ship Shabab Oman, for over two decades, died recently.   An obituary by Frank Scott, author of A Square Rig Handbook, reposted with permission from the  Marine History List:

Commander Christopher Biggins

Chris Biggins who recently died of cancer was Captain of the Omani national sail training ship Shabab Oman for over 20 years, and during that time he made her a major force in the international world of sail training.

Under his command Shabab Oman became well known as an extremely friendly ship, and as a result she won ‘The Cutty Sark Trophy’ a record four times, and its successor ‘The Sail Training International Friendship Trophy‘ another three times.

A heavy-built wooden barquentine Shabab Oman was not a fast vessel, but she was always well-handled, and her crew were both highly enthusiastic and very helpful to others. Particularly once all Moslems had come to be viewed with deep suspicion in the west, Shabab Oman served as a beacon of friendship to such a degree that even American visitors felt comfortable onboard.

The immaculate appearance of his vessel was no mean achievement, particularly when you consider the immense upkeep problems for an ageing wooden vessel in the tropics. I knew Chris for many years, and he had such high personal standards that his crews adored him, and in the close world of sail training people only had good things to say about him. His untimely death came as a great shock to us all, but I am sure that his spirit will live on in the new & much larger sail training ship which is to be built for Oman.

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25 Responses to Commander Christopher Biggins – Captain of the Omani sail training ship SHABAB OMAN

  1. George B Williams says:

    I was greatly saddened to learn of Chris Biggins’ passing.. I knew him well in my capacity as Senior Refit Project Manager for the Royal Navy of Oman, Fleet Maintenance Facility at Wudam Naval Base. I held this office from 1990 to 2002 during which time I presided over ship maintenance periods including two refits of RNOV Shabab Oman.. Chris was always special, and made those who served under him special too.. Aptly named the “Friendly Ship”, the RNOV Shabab Oman young crewmen aspired to be talented seamen and important officers in the Royal Navy of Oman. I am sure that Chris will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, and my sincerest condolences go out to his family and fellow sailors..
    George B Williams

  2. David Fryer says:

    During the almost 20 years I spent in Oman until leaving soem 7 years ago, I had the privelidge to be a friend of Chris, and was deeply saddened to hear of his untimley passing.
    Chris was one of the most amiable people one could wish to meet, having high standards and morals, which were recognised and applauded by those who knew him. His parents were equally very nice people and will I am sure will be devastated by the sad demise of their son. God rest his sould

  3. Didier HUE says:

    I had the privilege of sharing a few days with Commander Biggins as liaison officer on board Shabab Oman during her stay in Rouen in July of 2008. He was the very soul of this beautiful ship and a man whose charismatic personality shone through each of his actions. This is indeed a great loss.

  4. Mohammed says:

    It is with a heavy heart and great sadness to hear about commander Chris. It is a very shocked news for all of us. It was quick and it is not his time really.
    Commander Chris had an outstanding Naval career, was a distinguished and very intelligent gentleman. He had a passion for the sea and sailing. He always do the best he had in whole his naval career and achieved more than any one can acheive these days. He lived an active and healthy lifestyle — frequently swimming and running.
    I have told countless people the last few years that in my all years working in the sea, I have never been so privileged as to have worked with Commander Chris. To me, Commander Chris represented the best of what a Captain had to offer: honesty, integrity, solid values, leadership and a tremendous love for his ship company.
    I share my thoughts and consideration to you, and ask for your prayers for the Chris family during this tragic moment. While the coming days will be full of unanswered questions, and thoughts of missed goodbyes.
    Oman has lost a fine public servant and he will be missed.
    Good bye Commander Chris. We all proud of you as Omani..

  5. Nassir says:

    That is shocking! So sad. He lived a great life, This is a huge loss of a wonderful and principled man who was a great captain! He was truly a wonderful man. Oman was privileged to have him as long as we did. My prayers go out to the Commander Chris’s family and everyone he has touched. Commander Chris , you left an unparalleled legacy. You will be greatly missed.
    “Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not.”
    “Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.
    My sincerest condolences to the Commander Chris family during this time of tremendous loss & sadness.

  6. Juma says:

    So very sad to hear about this great loss. We will miss his smile, his encouragement and his awesome craftsmanship, the man could build anything. He lived for sailing, loved every minute of it, when you go for a sail hes right there with you.Chris is still in our heart and this shows us how really we have loved this person as he kept in our mind . He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He was a great Captain, For me CHRIS is never gonna be forgotten. We all love you.

  7. Ibrahim S says:

    I wish I had words to express all that passed through my mind when I read that Chris had passed.I’m so sorry to hear this sad news. He left a great legacy in Royal navy of Oman .
    Chris is in our thoughts and prayers, well, he has a special place in every single Omani’s heart. He always will. He will be missed and well remembered!

  8. Paul says:

    I am shocked to hear this. An old and dear friend he was. I had expected him to be with us for a very long time.
    He was a great Captain with a lot of Sailing experience. One of the best sailor in the world. I saw him before 6 months ago and he was very well. It is hard to understand how this could happen to him quickly in short time.
    My condolences to his family and other friends

  9. Ravi M says:

    I am terribly shocked by sad news about sudden death of Chris Biggins. He was a most imaginative thinker, which contributed greatly to his career as an outstanding Naval captain.
    I still cannot believe this awful news . He was a truly wonderful man and we miss him so much. God bless him.
    My deepest condolences to his family.

  10. Sara says:

    Chris you did so much for our beloved Oman. I have been crying since I heard this tragic news. We all proud of you. We admire and respect all that you have achieved during your career . May God give Chris’s family much strength and comfort during this very difficult time.

  11. Ali says:

    I never seen Chris without smile. We are really going to miss you Chris and your smile.
    The good ones will never stay, may your soul rest in utmost peace. we will never ever forget you Chris.

  12. Tom B says:

    What can I say that hasn’t already been said? There was nothing you wouldn’t do to help a friend, and nothing fazed you. I have enough memories to last a were a good and well meaning person who shall be sorely missed. I am so sad that you have departed this worldly domain so soon and hope that you have found peace in the hereafter.
    Sincere condolences to your family and friends.

  13. Mark says:

    My dear friend Chris.This is such a shock.You were too young to leave us.We were friends for many many years.We had more laughs than one could count.May God bless you and may you rest in peace.

  14. Safiah says:

    commander Chris Biggins will be sorely missed by all that knew him. Everyone he touched he left with a positive experience. What a great man who was taken from this earth to soon. May I extend my sympathy to his lovely family.

  15. Omar says:

    Love to you in this time of sorrow. You are in our thoughts daily.

  16. Ken says:

    A great man who will be very sadly missed by one who never even met him

  17. Peter Hammond says:

    I am greatly saddened by the news of Chris’s death and send to Bill’s family my prayers and thanks for his courageous life.

    Although I never had the honor of meeting chris in person, I continue now in his death to know him as a friend and colleague.

  18. Ken Allen says:

    This is not the type news we wish to hear. Commander Chris was indeed one of the best sailing captains! Taken much too soon and will be sadly missed. My sincerest condolences to his family.

  19. Kevin Miller, Stavros S Niarchos Crew says:

    I have met Chris Biggins several times on Tall Ship Races.
    He and his crew were great ambassadors for the ship and the country, making every one welcome on board.
    They create a great spectacle on the crew parades.
    Few men are indispensable, he may be one of them.
    Best regards to Chris
    Kevin Miller

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  21. David Seddon says:

    I knew Chris in his very early sea going career. I sailed with him as a cadet and he was 1st Officer in the Merchant Navy. I was a great teacher and with such high standards in all aspects of work and life. A sad loss to everyone who met him.

  22. Jim Webster Swt. Supvre. Wudam naval base 1987/1997 says:

    Sadly, jut heard of the demise of Shabab Oman Commander Chris Biggins.Having served with the Royal Navy of Oman for 10years, I worked closel with Chris whilst the vessel was alongside and during the sips maintenance periods and refits and also socially. He was the most genuine and pleasant person it was my privelege to know. I met him a few years ago whilst the Shebab Oman was in Newcastle for the Tall Ships race. He invited myself, my wife and grand daughters on boad, and he was the most gracious of hosts. A lovely man,sorely missed.

  23. Chris Parsons says:

    I have just come across this website and read of the death of Chris. Although a couple of years have now passed, his death has come as a great shock. I had the privilege of sailing with Chris onboard the Shabab Oman as the ships engineer and had some great times. He was well loved and respected by all who sailed under his command. We spent 12 interesting months at the Valdettaro shipyard in Italy rebuilding this great vessel back in the 90’s.
    Chris was a great captain, great teacher and was a great ambassador for Oman. He will always be remembered and leaves a great legacy.
    God speed Chris and fair sailing

  24. For the last year, Commander Bernie Bruen has been working on a book about Chris and Shabab Oman. This book was published on the anniversary of Chris’s birthday on the 21st May and provides a thorough history of Shabab Oman across the many years that she served Oman. A5 in size and running the 217 pages, the text is supported by excellent colour pictures.

    The family is selling copies of the book at £20 plus postage at cost. For more details either visit the website at or contact

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