Swede Momsen: Early Navy Years
Charles Bowers "Swede" Momsen
Charles Bowers "Swede" Momsen was born in Flushing, Queens, New
York, on June 21,1896. He was to become one of the best-known pioneers
in the field of submarine rescue in American history, primarily
due to his invention of the Momsen Lung, an underwater escape device.
His dedication to the rescue of sunken Submariners would eventually
earn him a Distinguished Service Medal in 1929.
Momsen's Naval career almost ended prematurely. He entered the
US Naval Academy in 1914. Due to grade problems, he had to leave
during the spring of his plebe (freshman)
year. For most young men, this would have been the end of a dream.
However, Momsen doggedly pursued another appointment to the Academy.
He succeeded and entered the Academy to repeat his plebe year. He
graduated in 1919, a year early, due to the beginning of World War
Momsen served as the Commanding Officer of the Submarine S-1 (U.S. Navy photo)
From 1919 to 1921, Momsen served on the battleship USS Oklahoma. In 1921, he transferred to submarines and went
to the US Navy Submarine School in New London, Connecticut, for training.
He graduated in January 1922. A year and a half later, he took command
of the O-15, an aging submarine. A few years after that, he was assigned
to the S-1 as Commanding Officer. The S-1 was a World War I "S" Class
submarine. At that time, it was the newest of U.S. Navy-designed boats.