Underwater demolition

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Underwater demolition refers to the deliberate destruction or neutralization of man-made or natural underwater obstacles, both for military and civilian purposes.


HMS Royal George[edit]

In 1839 Charles Pasley, a colonel of the Royal Engineers, used sealed barrels of gunpowder to demolish the wreck of the Royal George, which sank at moorings at Spithead in 1782.


John G. Foster[edit]

Shortly after the American Civil War, Brevet Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, a West Point trained engineer, became one of the first acknowledged experts in underwater demolition. In 1869, he wrote a definitive treatise on the topic and became widely recognized as the authority on underwater demolition. Many of his theories and techniques were still in practice during the Spanish–American War and World War I.

Christian J. Lambertsen[edit]

In 1940, Christian J. Lambertsen demonstrated his semi-closed circuit rebreather, the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), for the U.S. Navy in connection with his proposal for the formation of military teams of underwater swimmers.[1][2]

Major Lambertsen served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1944 to 1946 where he did a detached service in underwater operations with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). After joining OSS, he was vital in establishing the first cadres of U.S. military operational combat swimmers during late World War II.

His responsibilities included training and developing methods of combining self-contained diving and swimmer delivery for the OSS "Operational Swimmer Group".[3][4] Following World War II, he trained U.S. forces in methods for submerged operations, including composite fleet submarine / operational swimmers activity.[5]

Draper L. Kauffman[edit]

In June 1943, Draper L. Kauffman organized the first U.S. Navy Demolition Teams. The original purpose of these teams was to map and record conditions in amphibious landing zones and to demolish obstacles in water which would prevent vehicles from landing during invasions.[6]

K Underwater demolition specialists may still be referred to as underwater demolition teams. Today, various special operations units use aspects of demolition diving. Most prominently carried out by Navy SEALs and UCT divers.


Research into diver safety related to underwater blast continues at the US Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lambertsen, CJ (1941). "A diving apparatus for life saving work". Journal of the American Medical Association. 116: 1387–1389. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.62820130001015.
  2. ^ Larson, HE and the Committee on Undersea Warfare (1959). "A history of self-contained diving and underwater swimming". National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council Report. Publication 469.
  3. ^ Vann RD (2004). "Lambertsen and O2: beginnings of operational physiology". Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. 31 (1): 21–31. PMID 15233157. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  4. ^ Butler FK (2004). "Closed-circuit oxygen diving in the U.S. Navy". Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. 31 (1): 3–20. PMID 15233156. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
  5. ^ Lambertsen, C.J. (1947). "Problems of shallow water diving. Report based on experiences of operational swimmers of the Office of Strategic Services". Occupational Medicine. 3 (3): 230–245. doi:10.1093/occmed/3.1.230. PMID 20238884.
  6. ^ The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum (2004). "Navy SEAL history: WORLD WAR II". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  7. ^ Cudahy, E & Parvin, S (2001). "The Effects of Underwater Blast on Divers". US Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab Technical Report. NSMRL-1218. Retrieved 2008-09-13.