The Philadelphia Experiment
the USS Eldridge really disappear? (Copyright
Lee Krystek, 1999)
In October 1955 "Dr." Morris Jessup received a
series of strange letters. Jessup was a 55 year-old astronomer
and adventurer. Though he'd never officially received a Phd
he'd written a dissertation in the field of astrophysics. Later
he developed interests in jungle exploration, archaeology and
"fringe" science. In that same year his book The Case for
the UFO was published in hardcover and paperback.
It was shortly after the paperback version of
his work came out that the letters arrived. They were rambling,
strangely worded and written with several different colors of
pencil and pen. The second of these letters told Jessup about
an experiment the U.S. Navy had tried in 1943. According to
the writer, the Navy was trying to render a destroyer invisible
by applying Einstein's Unified Field Theory. The ship, the U.S.S.
Eldridge, had indeed disappeared, the letter said, but at
a terrible price to the crew: ...
The "result" was complete invisibility of a
ship. Destroyer type, and all of its crew, While at Sea (October.
1943) The Field Was effective in an oblate spheroidal shape,
extending one hundred yards (More or Less, due to the Lunar
position & Latitude) out from each beam of the ship. Any
Person Within that sphere became vague in form BUT He too observed
those Persons aboard that ship as though they too were of the
same state, yet were walking upon nothing. Any person without
that sphere could see Nothing save the clearly Defined shape
of the Ships Hull in the Water, PROVIDING of course, that the
person was just close enough to see yet, barely outside the
field. Why tell you Now? Very Simple; If You choose to go Mad
then you would reveal this information. Half of the officers
& crew of that Ship are at Present, Mad as Hatters. A few,
are even Yet confined to certain areas where they May receive
trained Scientific aid when they either, "Go Blank" or "Go Blank"
& Get Stuck."... The Man thusly stricken can Not Move of
his own volition unless two or More of those who are within
the field go & touch him, quickly, else he "Freezes".
The writer also claimed that some of the crew
could walk through walls and that during the experiment the
whole ship had disappeared, reappeared in Norfolk, Virginia,
then returned to Philadelphia. The man claimed he had observed
the experiment from a merchant ship nearby and had later read
about some more of the incident in a Philadelphia newspaper.
The writer had signed himself "Carl M. Allen."
Jessup thought the letters were from a crackpot
until he was visited by two men from the Office of Naval Research
(ONR). The ONR had anonymously been sent a paperback copy of
Jessup's UFO book. The inside of the book had been heavily marked
up with incoherent handwritten notes in various colors that
made it appear that at least three different writers had been
involved. Although Admiral Furth, to whom the package had been
addressed, took little notice of the strange volume, Commander
George Hoover, Major Darrell Ritter and Captain Sidney Sherby,
all of the ONR, took a personal interest in it. They also decided
to talk to Jessup to see if he could shed some light on the
author of the notes.
Jessup immediately recognized the script to be
in the same style as the letters. He showed the letters to the
officers. The Navy men were interested in them. They took the
letters and the book, and at their own expense, had a few number
of copies made that were distributed to a small group of people.
The officers attempted to find this "Carl M. Allen"
(who would later be identified as "Carols Miguel Allende") but
none of the return addresses on the letters or the package seemed
to lead to him. Jessup, who was busy on other projects, at first
lost interest in the strange correspondence, but later started
investigating their unusual claims. He found out little.
In 1969, after Jessup's death, Allende showed
up at the office of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization
(APRO) in Tucson, Arizona, The APRO group is dedicated to examining
UFO reports. There Allende confessed to writing the letters
and the notes in the book sent to the ONR. He stated that Jessup's
book, particularly a part about invisability and force fields,
had frightened him prompting him to make up the story of the
ship disappearing to scare Jessup away from writing about UFOs.
So ifsAllende confession the end of the tale?
Not quite. In 1979 William Moore and Charles Berlitz wrote a
book called "The Philadelphia Experiment." In the book they
suggested that Allende's confession may have been false. They
also included a copy of what appeared to be a newspaper article
from 1943. The book infers that the sailors mentioned in the
article were suffering after effects of "The Philadelphia Experiment."
The headline read:
Strange Circumstances Surround Tavern Brawl
The article stated that during an altercation
at a Philadelphia bar, two sailors disappeared into thin air.
There is no date or newspaper name on the article and it does
not seem to match the column size of any Philadelphia paper
of that day. It was obtained when a photocopy was sent to Moore
and Berlitz anonymously. Unfortunately this combination of circumstances
makes it impossible to show that the article is not a hoax.
USS Eldridge in port some years later under a
different name and flag.
The Moore/Berlitz book also focused on Jessup's
death (which was a suicide) and the uncharacteristic interest
of ONR in Allende's notes. The authors suggest that this is
evidence that there is some truth behind the story.
Two films were made about the alleged incident
which helped to keep public interest in the story going. In
1984 the "The Philadelphia Experiment" staring Michael Pare
and Nancy Allen told a much altered version of the the Moore/Berlitz
book's tale. A sequel ,"Philadelphia Experiment II," was released
It may not only be Allende's letters that inspired
the rumors about "The Philadelphia Experiment" (which has also
been referred to as the "Rainbow Project"). During WWII the
United States Navy had a program to deguass ships. This process,
which entailed running cables around the circumference of the
ship's hull (bow to stern), canceled out the ship's magnetic
field. This made it undetectable (or one might say magnetically
invisible) to some types of mines and torpedoes. The process
had no affect on the visual appearance of the ship. The US Navy
suggests that a misunderstanding of this process may have somehow
been the genesis for "The Philadelphia Experiment" story.
Another possibility might be experiments the Navy
carried out on the USS Timmerman during the 1950's. A
new high-frequency generator was installed. The generator produced
corona discharges that seemed similar to what was described
in the story when the ship supposedly disappeared.
Whatever the roots of the story might have been
(Allende, deguassing or corona discharges) one thing is certain:
No experiment was done in 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
involving the USS Eldridge.
During that period she never stopped in Philadelphia.
A fact attested to by the ship's crew. In March of 1999 fifteen
members of the crew of the USS Eldridge held a reunion
in Atlantic City. They were a bit bewildered about why of all
the ships in the U.S. Navy the Eldridge was chosen for
this rumor. Some were getting tired of being asked about it.
All denied anything like what was in the Allende story or the
Moore/Berlitz book ever actually happened. Quipped former crew
member Ed Tempary as he gave his comrades a smile, "The only
part of the book I think is true is the part about the crew
being a little crazy."
Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.