Naval Submarine Research Laboratory : A unique command with a unique mission

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 11, 2003

The recently completed United States Naval Institute Warfare Expo provided audiences an opportunity to interact with some of the most senior officials in the military and government.

From the Chief of Naval Operations to the Commander, Fleet Forces Command visitors heard about the military’s future, from a maritime perspective. In addition to a series of speeches and seminars the Expo provided a wide variety of information booths.

One of the most unique, and least known, of all the exhibitors was the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL). In fact, the lab’s Technical Director Dr. Jerry Lamb enjoyed the opportunity to talk with expo attendees about the unit and its’ unique mission. &uot;A lot of visitors hadn’t heard of us,&uot; remarked Lamb, &uot;However the expo was a great opportunity to tell our story. We took full advantage of it.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Located at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton Connecticut, the lab was established during World War II originally was tasked with conducting studies in night vision, and sonar sound discrimination. Today, the lab’s mission is to &uot;protect the health and enhance the performance of warfighters through submarine, diving, and surface biomedical research solutions.&uot;

Today the lab is taking the lead in a number of undersea issues including human factors, sensory sciences, and operational medicine.

During the Expo the lab’s accomplishments were touted, however the area that seemed to draw the most interest was the work of the submarine medical and survival systems department. Escaping from a submarine has always been a issue of concern for the Navy. Issues such as temperature and pressure effected, among other issues, the probability of a crew member escaping successfully especially in today’s &uot;littoral&uot; conflict.

&uot;We are using submarines in shallow water, in the littoral, which makes the possibility of rescue more likely,&uot; commented Dr. Lamb. &uot;The Submarine Escape and Immersion Equipment (SEIE) makes that possible.&uot;

The SEIE system is a full exposure body that comes with its own life raft. Once a sailor escapes from the sub, and is able to get to the surface of the water, They are protected from the elements until rescue forces arrive. This is a quantum leap from the &uot;Steinke Hood&uot; escape protection system that been onboard U.S. submarines since the Korean War.