The Philadelphia Experiment: Fact or Fiction?

How do you make an entire warship vanish? It’s the stuff of Hollywood dreams or maybe a David Copperfield special. But back in 1943, in the midst of World War II, there was no Hollywood soundstage. There was no illusion and no camera trick. It was the Philadelphia Experiment and many people claimed to have witnessed it firsthand.

Or did they?

28 October, 1943. Cannon-class destroyer USS Eldridge was rendered invisible both to the naked eye and the radar. According to legends, hundreds of people saw the ship “disappear” with their own eyes. But these claims have since been largely dismissed with the US Navy categorically stating that no such experiments ever took place.

But conspiracy theorists prefer to believe otherwise. Here some myths and facts surrounding experiment.

1. The invisible ship

Philadelphia ExperimentImage Source: Historic Mysteries

The Philadelphia Experiment, over the years, has become a part myth and part legend,and stuff that has generated much speculation on what exactly happened that day. The US Navy at that time was reportedly working on “invisibility” technology. They wanted to bend and reduce magnetic fields of the ships for avoiding torpedoes and mines. The research was carried out at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. In the 1940s, USS Timmerman was the chosen site for many naval experiments related to the project. A high-frequency generator was installed to forge discharges that can disrupt the magnetic field. The experiments no doubt happened. But whether the USS Eldridge vanished remains a mystery.

2. Morris K Jessup

Philadelphia ExperimentImage Source: Veritas-Europe

Philadelphia Experiment was just another story, a rumour, a legend, told and retold by people as a warning against the US government and all secret projects undertaken by the military during World War II. That was when a mysterious letter was received by Morris K Jessup about the alleged experiment. Jessup was an automobile spare-parts salesman, better known for his books on UFOs. His death in 1959 was ruled as suicide and he became a cult figure in the Philadelphia Experiment puzzle.

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3. Carl M Allen

Philadelphia ExperimentImage Source:

Under the alias of Carlos Allende, sailor Carl M Allen wrote at length about Philadelphia Experiment as he claimed to have witnessed it. Allen was the mysterious writer who wrote to Jessup. Serving aboard SS Andrew Furuseth, Allen saw USS Eldridge appear and vanish suddenly. One moment the warship was there and in the very next there was nothing but empty water before him. Many believe Allen to be the creator of all the tales about the experiment. His claims were contradicted by William Dodge, the captain of SS Andrew Furuseth, who didn’t see anything unusual on that day at Norfolk. Allen was later rebuked as mentally disturbed and insane.

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Prabuddha Neogi

Foodie, lazy, bookworm, and internet junkie. All in that order. Loves to floor the accelerator. Mad about the Himalayas and its trekking trails. Forester in past life. An avid swimmer. Also an occasional writer and editor

One thought on “The Philadelphia Experiment: Fact or Fiction?

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