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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY & HERITAGE COMMAND
Related resources: Philadelphia
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
OFFICE OF NAVAL RESEARCH
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA 22217
Over the years, the Navy has received innumerable queries
about the so-called "Philadelphia Experiment" or "Project"
and the alleged role of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in
it. The majority of these inquiries are directed to the Office
of Naval Research or to the Fourth Naval District in Philadelphia.
The frequency of these queries predictably intensifies each time
the experiment is mentioned by the popular press, often in a science
Information Sheet: Philadelphia Experiment
The genesis of the Philadelphia Experiment myth dates back
to 1955 with the publication of The Case for UFO's by the
late Morris K. Jessup.
Some time after the publication of the book, Jessup received
correspondence from a Carlos Miquel Allende, who gave his address
as R.D. #1, Box 223, New Kensington, Pa. In his correspondence,
Allende commented on Jessup's book and gave details of an alleged
secret naval experiment conducted by the Navy in Philadelphia
in 1943. During the experiment, according to Allende, a ship was
rendered invisible and teleported to and from Norfolk in a few
minutes, with some terrible after-effects for crew members. Supposedly,
this incredible feat was accomplished by applying Einstein's "unified
field" theory. Allende claimed that he had witnessed the
experiment from another ship and that the incident was reported
in a Philadelphia newspaper. The identity of the newspaper has
never been established. Similarly, the identity of Allende is
unknown, and no information exists on his present address.
In 1956 a copy of Jessup's book was mailed anonymously to
ONR. The pages of the book were interspersed with hand-written
comments which alleged a knowledge of UFO's, their means of motion,
the culture and ethos of the beings occupying these UFO's, described
in pseudo-scientific and incoherent terms.
Two officers, then assigned to ONR, took a personal interest
in the book and showed it to Jessup. Jessup concluded that the
writer of those comments on his book was the same person who had
written him about the Philadelphia Experiment. These two officers
personally had the book retyped and arranged for the reprint,
in typewritten form, of 25 copies. The officers and their personal
belongings have left ONR many years ago, and ONR does not have
a file copy of the annotated book.
Personnel at the Fourth Naval District believe that the questions
surrounding the so-called "Philadelphia Experiment"
arise from quite routine research which occurred during World
War II at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Until recently, it
was believed that the foundation for the apocryphal stories arose
from degaussing experiments which have the effect of making a
ship undetectable or "invisible" to magnetic mines.
Another likely genesis of the bizarre stories about levitation,
teleportation and effects on human crew members might be attributed
to experiments with the generating plant of a destroyer, the USS
Timmerman. In the 1950's this ship was part of an experiment
to test the effects of a small, high-frequency generator providing
l,000 hz instead of the standard 400hz. The higher frequency generator
produced corona discharges, and other well known phenomena associated
with high frequency generators. None of the crew suffered effects
from the experiment.
ONR has never conducted any investigations on invisibility,
either in 1943 or at any other time (ONR was established in 1946.)
In view of present scientific knowledge, ONR scientists do not
believe that such an experiment could be possible except in the
realm of science fiction.
08 September 1996