Vice Admiral Charles Bowers Momsen
Vice Admiral Charles Bowers Momsen was born in Flushing, New York on June 21, 1896. The late 19th century was also the beginning of real progress in building a workable submarine. The paths that the submarine and the Admiral would take were to converge in historical way.
He attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating with the Class of 1920 a half a year early due to World War I. He chose to enter the submiarine service, graduating from the US Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut in January, 1922. From 1923 to 1927 he commanded three submarines and after encountering the agony of lives lost in what was called the "coffin service" he developed and submitted plans for a rescue chamber to bring sumbariners stranded on the bottom of the ocean floor to safety.
When approval for development of the rescue chamber was not forthcoming he invented an individual rescue device called the Momsen Lung. He never gave up on the rescue chamber and it was eventually funded and completed and today is known in the Navy as the Submarine Rescue "Bell" Chamber. In addition to the Momsen Lung and Bell, the Vice Admiral also developed new air mixtures for use in deep diving missions and a new set of decompression tables.
In 1939 the submarine USS Squalus went down off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the Bell along with new diving mixtures were put to the test. The saving of the 33 surviving crew members was a crowning achievement.
During World War II, he dove into the water and recovered a live torpedo in order to discover the reason for malfunctioning that was plaguing the Navy at the time. He also served as the commander of a group of submarines in the East China Sea which was under control of the Japanese. He used the "Wolf Pack" attack method he developed to sink five Japanese ships, totaling over 38,000 tons, and damage to eight Japanese ships, totaling 63,000 tons.
When the war ended, he commanded a fleet of Army and Navy vessels which gathered over six million Japanese from China, Formosa, the Pacific Islands, and Manchuria and returned them to Japan.
He served with Naval Operations for Undersea Warfare and later was the Commander of the Submarine Force, US Pacific Fleet.
In June of 1953 he was appointed the Commandant of the First Naval District in Boston, Massachusetts and also served as the Commander of the Naval bases in Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In April of 1954 he became the Commander of Joint Task Force Seven.
He retired in September of 1955 and died on May 25, 1967. It is interesting to note that the final survivors of the USS Squalus reached the surface just before midnight on May 24, 1939 and a final dive to be sure there were no survivors missed took place on May 25.
Vice Admiral Momsen is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.