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New London Naval Submarine Laboratory Celebrates 75 Years Of Medical Research

Courtesy of U.S. Navy

Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory at the U.S. submarine base in New London.

Captain Katharine Shobe is the Commanding Officer of the Laboratory.

She said one of the main areas of their research was sleep and performance when the US Navy changed submariners to 18-hour workdays. That didn't fit the human circadian 24-hour rhythm.

“We started with some basic research studies, and a laboratory simulated submarine environment and progressed to doing studies on deployed submarines. And then ultimately as this information and data accumulated the submarine force decided to switch to a 24-hour day based on the accumulation of our results,” Shobe said.

The lab’s mission is to promote the health, welfare and performance of submariners and divers in the Navy.

Much of their research work is for the Navy, but they have over the years helped discover other everyday things. David Fothergill is the lab’s science director.

“We were instrumental in providing the basic research that showed that the international color orange, for optimized visibility during air/sea rescues, is the best color to wear to be seen and picked up,” Fothergill said.

The lab was also responsible for the creation of the first standardized color vision test for military personnel in 1942.