Christian Doxrud

Sea captain and aviator

Born: 1881, Kristiania
Died: 1935, Oslo

Christian Doxrud spent much of his working life either at sea or in the air. An enterprising man who spoke several languages, he co-founded the Lyn football club as a youth in Kristiania (Oslo), and as a young man brought the Boy Scout movement to Valparaiso in Chile. In 1928, he helped to establish the Norwegian Aero Club, with Roald Amundsen elected chairman and himself deputy.

Doxrud graduated from Norway’s Naval Academy in 1903 and became a second lieutenant. After serving as an officer on a variety of vessels, he spent the years 1906-09 captaining steamships in Chile.

On November 4, 1912, Doxrud took command of the polar ship Fram in Buenos Aires. The following August, he sailed the ship north to Colón, Panama, with the intention of taking it through the Panama Canal, perhaps as the first ship to do so.

On reaching Colón, however, Doxrud and Fram were met by Thorvald Nilsen, who carried a letter from Amundsen. Nilsen was to resume his old job as Fram’s captain and have the honour of leading the ship though the canal. Doxrud’s diary records his disappointment at the decision, but also that he could gladly hand over command to his old schoolmate Nilsen.

Doxrud would continue as first mate for the rest of the voyage, but long delays to the opening of the Panama Canal meant that Fram would never pass through it. Course was instead laid southward, with the intention of reaching San Francisco via Cape Horn and then continuing north for the planned drift across the Arctic Ocean. But after months spent in tropical climes, Fram was in a very poor condition and would reach no further than Montevideo. Here the decision was made to return to Norway, and Fram’s last voyage ended in Horten in July 1914.

By 1913, Amundsen was already planning to use aircraft on the northern part of the Fram expedition and wished to have Doxrud with him as both ship’s officer and aviator. At Amundsen’s request, Doxrud had duly acquired an international pilot’s licence during his time in Buenos Aires, but Amundsen’s flying plans would have to wait.

Doxrud at the controls of an aeroplane in Buenos Aires. July 1913. Photo: Follo museum, MiA

Doxrud was married in 1916 to Gerd Klingenberg, with whom he had two children.

After serving during the First World War as a conscript captain in the Norwegian Navy, Doxrud ran an agricultural engineering business in Oslo for a time.

He became Norwegian agent for the German aircraft manufacturer Junkers and was involved in the marketing, selling and demonstrating of the aircraft in Norway. In December 1924, he was a pilot on the first flight to carry passengers over the Andes from Buenos Aires to Santiago in Chile. Arranged by Junkers, the flight included a stopover in Mendoza and took nine hours.

Doxrud was 54 years old when he died at home from kidney cancer in December 1935.

Fram museum: Doxrud, Christian
Lokalhistoriewiki: Christian Doxrud
Marinemuseet i Horten: Marinens rolle i norsk polarhistorie