Legends of Diving Articles


The Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society is sad to inform you that Dr. Christian Lambertsen, MD has passed away at the age of 94. He was one of the six individuals responsible for forming, the then, Undersea Medical Society on April 10, 1967. Dr. Lambertsen, as the only civilian, as the other were all US Navy Officers, was given the job of writing its constitution and was a member of the first Executive Committee. The first annual meeting of the Society followed on May 8, 1968 with 88 charter members. There are few who will not have known Chris Lambertsen in the first 30 years of the Society. Below is a brief background for the more recent members.

Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen
UMS Founding Father, Rebreather Development
"The Father of U.S. Combat Swimming"

Died February 11, 2011 at age of 94

Christian J. Lambertsen, M.D., D.Sc. (Hon): Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen received a B.S. Degree from Rutgers University in 1938 and a M.D. Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1943 During his medical school period, he invented and first used forms of the initial U.S. self-contained closed circuit oxygen rebreathing apparatus, for neutral buoyancy underwater swimming and diving. As a student, he aided the early Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) in establishing the first cadres of U.S. military operational combat swimmers. Dr. Lambertsen became a U.S. Army medical officer on graduation from medical school in early 1943, and immediately joined the O.S.S. Maritime Unit on active duty through its period of function in World War II. He joined the University of Pennsylvania Medical Faculty in 1946, and became Professor of Pharmacology in 1952. While a faculty member he combined diving research and further underwater rebreathing equipment developments for the Army and Navy. In 1967 he served as Founding President of the Undersea Medical Society (now Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.) Dr. Lambertsen is recognized by the Naval Special Warfare community as “The Father of U.S. Combat Swimming.” His hand has touched every aspect of military and commercial diving. Dr. Lambertsen’s active contributions to diving began during WWII and became even more progressive in the post-war period through the evolutions of the U.S. Navy Deep Submergence and Naval Special Warfare developmental programs.


Those who would like to send condolences may send them to:
The Lambertsen Family
c/o Chris Lambertsen
3500 West Chester Pike, Suite 129
Newtown Square, PA 19073-4101

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