Elected in 1977
“For contributions to environmental science and to
diving physiology and technology.”
BY TOM HAWKINS SUBMITTED BY THE HOME SECRETARY
CHRISTIAN J. LAMBERTSEN, a distinguished scientist, medical doctor, inventor, environmentalist, pioneer in undersea and aerospace medicine, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for his entire adult life, died on February 11, 2011, at the age of 93. He excused himself from daily activities at the university only in the past several years, when he was forced to slow down because of physical incapacitation. He was held in especially high regard by the U.S. Navy SEALs, who considered him a friend, mentor, and “Father of U.S. Combat Swimming,” a title he very much appreciated.
Dr. Lambertsen received a B.S. degree from Rutgers University in 1938 and his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1943. His extraordinary lifetime of accomplishments began during involvement with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II when, as a 23-year-old medical student, he presented his invention of a self-contained underwater swimming apparatus. Once developed, it was called the Lambertsen Lung and eventually the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (or simply LARU). The LARU would enable a well-trained swimmer to work bubble-free underwater and thus operate around