Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit
The Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU, for short) is an early model of closed circuit oxygen rebreather, used by military frogmen. Christian J. Lambertsen designed a series of them in the USA in 1940 (patent filing date: 16 Dec 1940) and in 1944 (issue date: 2 May 1944).
The LARU is what the initials SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) originally meant; Lambertsen changed his invention's name to SCUBA in 1952; but later "SCUBA", gradually changing to "scuba", came to mean (first in the USA) to mean any self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. (Modern diving regulator technology was invented by Émile Gagnan and Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1943 and was not related to rebreathers; nowadays the word SCUBA is largely used to mean to Gagnan's and Cousteau's invention and its derivatives.)
Lambertsen designed the LARU while a medical student and demonstrated the LARU to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (after already being rejected by the U.S. Navy) in a pool at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. The OSS "Operational Swimmer Group" was formed and Lambertsen's responsibilities included training and developing methods of combining self-contained diving and swimmer delivery including the LARU.
The version in the images linked to below, show:
- Two apparent large lengthways backpack cylinders under a hard metal cover: the right cylinder is oxygen and the left apparent cylinder is the absorbent canister.
- Fullface mask with small eye holes like an old-type gasmask
- Two breathing bags, one on each shoulder.
- 4 lengths of wide corrugated breathing tubes in a loop: from the mask to one of the breathing bags to the canister to the other breathing bag to the mask.
- Its harness is a strong cloth jacket that enclosed the diver's chest.
- Mid front, a long zipped pocket: the diagrams do not show whether it was for kit or for diving weights.
Many diving rebreathers are descended from it. However, there were earlier underwater uses of rebreathers:
- Davis Escape Set
- Siebe Gorman Salvus
- The rebreathers used by the Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS frogmen in World War II
- Rebreathers used by British frogmen and divers in WWII: see Siebe Gorman CDBA
- Lambertsen's patent in Google Patents
- See Lambertsen's homage by the Passedaway.com website
- Shapiro, T. Rees (February 19, 2011). "Christian J. Lambertsen, OSS officer who created early scuba device, dies at 93". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- staff (2013-10-30). "'America's first frogman' dies in Bend at 95". KTVZ. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- Vann RD (2004). "Lambertsen and O2: beginnings of operational physiology". Undersea Hyperb Med 31 (1): 21–31. PMID 15233157. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- Butler FK (2004). "Closed-circuit oxygen diving in the U.S. Navy". Undersea Hyperb Med 31 (1): 3–20. PMID 15233156. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
- A long biography about him, and about the rebreather that he designed
- Images of his rebreather
- Image of Lambertsen rebreather's fullfdace mask, 1944
- Front vierw of frogman swimming with Lambertsen rebreather, 1944
- Lambertsen rebreather with mouthpiece on neck strap, and eyes-and-nose mask, 1944