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.