Momsen Lung 1929


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 Momsen Lung 1928-1929

Date: 10 December 2002


JW. Bech





Momsen lung


Land of origin



Special Note: 

 Submarine escape apparatus


User group



Part no:



Working principle

Scrubber in counterlung

Reuse of added oxygen in CL

Gas type

Pure oxygen


Cylinder volume

No oxygen bottle

 CL filled in Submarine

Max. cylinder pressure



Material of cylinder



Counterlung inspire

Yes rubber back


Counterlung exhale



Dive time duration



Operating temperature



Magnetic signature



Weight ready to use in Air



Weight ready to use in water






Scrubber material










Chest / neck

















 The momsen lung was worn around the neck and the counterlung was on the chest. Double house system with mouthpiece and valves. Before escaping the submarine the lung was short connected to a central oxygen supply system in the submarine. The available oxygen in the counterlung had to do the job!



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Info found:






 The Momsen Lung will allow the wearer to safely rise to the surface or to pause for a short period at any depth on the way up. It cannot be used to descend nor to remain at a fixed depth for more than a very short time so it is NOT useful as a SCUBA device. Because of its limitations and dangers the Momsen Lung is no longer used aboard modern submarines. It has been replaced aboard US Navy submarines by the Stanke Hood.



The 42nd Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyer will be named Momsen (DDG 92) in honor of the late Vice Adm. Charles Bowers "Swede" Momsen, famous for his actions in the May 1939 rescue of 33 crewmen of the sunken submarine USS Squalus and the salvage of the submarine from 240 feet of water. Momsen also is renowned for his invention of a submarine escape breathing device that came to be known as the "Momsen Lung."


Vice Admiral, born 1896, died 1967

Born in Flushing, NY in 1896, Charles "Swede" Momsen was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1919, and from the Submarine School in 1922. (Despite his nickname, Momsen was of German-Danish extraction, and not Swedish.) His interest in submarine rescue was piqued by the sinking of the U.S.S. S-4 in December 1927, when six sailors were able to survive for three days in the torpedo room, but were unable to escape.

Momsen developed his "Momsen Lung" escape device while serving with the Submarine Safety Test Unit aboard S-4 from 1929 to 1932. With proper training in the Submarine School's escape tank, this could be used to safely ascend from as deep as 200 feet.

In May 1939, Momsen was in charge of the rescue of 33 sailors trapped in the forward section of the sunken Squalus, which went down in 243 feet of water off Portsmouth, NH. The depth was too great for a free ascent using the Momsen Lung, and the McCann Rescue Chamberóanother Momsen creation, but named after Allan McCann, who took over the work of perfecting the device after Momsen was assigned to other dutiesówas used instead. After the survivors were rescued, Momsen supervised the raising of Squalus which, after repair, was recommissioned as U.S.S. Sailfish.

Momsen had been one of the pioneers in the developing of a helium/oxygen mixture for deep dives, which proved important for the divers working on the Squalus. The nitrogen in air has an intoxicating effect on deep dives. Replacing the nitrogen with helium avoids this problem, allowing the divers to stay down longer and go deeper.

During World War II, Momsen was deeply involved in detecting the fault in the impact portion of the Mark-6 exploder mechanism used on the Mark-14 submarine torpedo and Mark-15 destroyer torpedo. Momsen contributed to the field modification of the firing pin and guides, referred to as the "PHM" (Pearl Harbor Modification) by torpedomen.

Momsen commanded Submarine Squadron 2 and Submarine Squadron 4. He won a Navy Cross and Legion of Merit commanding the first American wolf pack in 1944. Momsen pioneered the use of low-frequency underwater sound transmission for communications between the submarines. This differed significantly from the German wolf pack tactics, which coordinated homing the u-boats onto the convoys by radio from headquarters, but left the attack itself a free-for-all melee.

In October 1944, eight men used their Momsen Lungs to escape from the U.S.S. Tang, which had gone down in 180 feet of water. Three died during the night and the rest were taken prisoner. The details of their escape didn't become known until after the war, when they were liberated.

Momsen passed away in 1967.







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