Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory

The Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) is located on the New London Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut. The laboratory's mission is to protect the health of American sailors, focused on submarines and scuba diving.[1][2] It is a subordinate command of the Naval Medical Research Center.[3]

Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy
RoleNSMRL is the primary source of submarine medicine and safety information for the US Navy.
Part ofNaval Medical Research Center (NMRC)
Garrison/HQNew London Submarine BaseGroton, Connecticut
Captain Kim Lefebvre

History and overview

The laboratory was established during World War II to study night vision, sonar sound discrimination, and personnel selection. Today it continues in the areas of undersea human factors, Sensory analysis, and operational medicine.[1][2] Its achievements include:[1][2]

  • Sea Lab 1 habitat project
  • Disabled Submarine Escape and Rescue project
  • "Rig-for-red" viewing
  • Development of the International Orange color (Air-Sea Rescue Red)
  • Studies of hyperbaric nitrogen narcosis
  • Development of saturation diving and decompression tables
  • Performance-based screening of color vision
  • Personnel screening and assessment for enclosed environments
  • Effects of atmospheric conditions on health and performance in enclosed environments
  • Underwater acoustic signal discrimination and classification
  • Bioeffects of underwater sound
  • Search and rescue

NSMRL is located in Groton, Connecticut near the mouth of the Thames River and Long Island Sound. The laboratory works in conjunction with Submarine School New London, and it conducts sea trials through the Submarine Base New London and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island.[1][2]


The NSMRL auditory laboratory includes a large, 1,000 m3 anechoic chamber.[1][4] The suspended cable floor and fiberglass wedges provide an "echo-free" environment that is essential for efforts on spatialized auditory displays and transducer evaluation. Additionally, there are ten instrumented sound-proof booths and a reverberant room. These facilities are integral to the work on human-machine interfaces, combat systems displays, hearing conservation, audio signal enhancement, noise reduction techniques, and diver hearing.

The laboratory has a 142 m3 enclosed atmosphere testing environment and facilities for cardiopulmonary and metabolic workload assessment.[1][4] It also has maintained close collaboration with the Royal Navy and its facilities at Alverstoke, England on several projects.[1][4] NSMRL's diving research program is supported by a saturation diving chamber certified to pressures simulating 350 fsw and a fully instrumented hyperbaric treatment chamber.[1][4] Both chambers are capable of supporting multi-diver teams and associated medical, physiological, and exercise equipment. The laboratory also maintains an enclosed 25-foot Boston Whaler equipped with GPS and radar to support open water diving research.[1][4]


Many of the NSMRL publications have been scanned and are available online at the Rubicon Research Repository.[5][6] Other articles can be found in the DUMC Archive finding aids of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society library collection.

See also


  1. Daniel, JC & Lamb, J (2005). "NSMRL: A Small Command with A Huge Presence for the Submarine Force". US Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory Technical Report. NSMRL-TR-1239. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  2. NSMRL. "ABOUT NSMRL -- History and Overview". Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  3. "NMRC Subordinate Commands". U.S. Naval Medical Research Center. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  4. NSMRL. "ABOUT NSMRL -- Facilities". Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  5. NSMRL. "NSMRL publications". Archived from the original on September 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  6. Rubicon Foundation. "NSMRL Collection". Retrieved 2008-07-13.
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