Lambertsen began working on his device even before he enrolled as a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. During World War II worked with the Army's Office of Strategic Services to establish special underwater forces deployed in Burma. He later worked with the Navy to train surface frogmen to become divers.
He established the university's Institute for Environmental Medicine, which has studied survival in hostile environments.
Lambertsen is survived by sons Christian, David, Richard, Bradley and six grandchildren. A memorial service is planned later.