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  • Nicky Molloy
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      As salty old yarns go, the Philadelphia Experiment, or. As it is sometimes
      referred to, Project Rainbow, sits atop the rigging of nautical weirdness
      like a defiant Albatross. Roy Bainton reopens the records. Additional
      material by Mark Pilkington. Illustrations by Alexander Tomlinson.
      The story, as it is usually told, goes something like this: in the autumn
      of I943, the US Navy carried out a series of scientific tests at the
      Philadelphia Navy Yard and out at sea. The 'science' involved Einstein's
      incomplete 'Unified Field Theory' (l). The initial aim was to render ships
      invisible to enemy radar. At 0900 hours on 22 October, [or 14 August
      depending on which source you use (2)], the Cannon class destroyer USS
      Eldridge, (DE I73), fitted with something called a 'Time-Zero Generator'
      and four electromagnetic generators, was engulfed in a greenish, hazy
      cloud. Before the assembled eyes of the Navy's top brass, the vessel
      vanished. Amazingly, the shape of the ship's hull could still be seen as a
      hollow in the water. Twenty minutes passed, and to everyone's mystified
      relief, the Eldridge re-appeared.

      All was not well, however. Legend has it that some of her crew had gone
      mad, staggering around and speaking gibberish. Although onlookers could see
      them, the hapless sailors claimed that they could not see each other, or
      the ship. Other sailors appeared drunk, laughing hysterically.(3) Whilst in
      this state of limbo, many men claimed that they had seen another naval
      port, Newport News in Virginia, some 600 miles (965 km) distant. Another
      element in this bizarre tale features reports that the Eldridge did
      actually materialise in Newport at the time of the experiment.

      Three weeks later, with a new crew installed, the Navy attempted the
      experiment again. This time, the Eldridge was at sea, in the company of a
      command vessel, the SS Andrew Furuseth (4). Another vessel, the freighter
      SS Malay is reputed to have been in the area and witnessed events. Once
      again the strange green cloud appeared, watched by observers on the command
      vessel; but this time the physical effects on the crew were horrendous.
      Some men spontaneously combusted, one vanished completely never to
      re-appear, others were embedded in the Eldridge's superstructure, some
      badly burned and many others went insane. Some sources mention an
      untraceable newspaper report from a 1944 Philadelphia paper of a brawl in a
      bar between sailors. According to the waitresses, the sailors "disappeared"
      into thin air as the police arrived.(5)

      Hoax, fantasy, colourful codswallop? Sounds like a case for Anderson and
      Duchovny. Indeed, Scully and Mulder tackled this in the 1995 episode of The
      X-Files called 'Dod Kalm' - see panel. But, to quote Longfellow, "Whence
      these legends and traditions?"
      To attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff and establish the "facts,"
      the best method is to break the story down into component parts and answer
      some questions.


      Apparently, yes.(6)
      Her keel was laid on 22 February 1943 and she was built by the Federal
      Shipbuilding and Dry-docks co. of Newark, New Jersey. She was completed in
      six months and a day [which makes 14 August as one of the dates given for
      the experiment look doubtful, as she was commissioned on 27 August
      1943(7)]. DE173 took her name from Commander John Eldridge Jr, who was
      killed in action over the Solomon Islands in 1942. He was the Commander of
      Scouting Squadron 71 on USS Wasp, CV7. D173 was commanded by Lt Charles R
      Hamilton, USNR.

      After 1943 she operated in the Mediterranean and towards the end of the war
      in the Pacific She was taken out of service and laid up on 17 June I946,
      sold to the Greek Navy on 15 January 1951 and re-named the Leon with her
      new number, D-54. She remained in service until 1991.


      Yes. When the British retrieved a new kind of German magnetic mine from the
      mudflats of Shoeburyness on 22 November 1939, scientists developed a method
      of exploding these highly effective mines several hundred yards from a
      ship. The method involved increasing a vessel's magnetic field by laying
      power lines along the deck.

      HMS Borde was the first magnetic minesweeper, but the method was not
      initially entirely successful. The baton was passed to the RAF who fitted
      copper coils and a generator to a Wellington transport plane, which flew
      over the water at 100 feet (30.5m).

      Research continued until it was discovered that ships with a southern
      polarity were unscathed by the mines; vessels built in the Northern
      Hemisphere had a northern polarity. Eventually the whole naval fleet was
      de-gaussed by having cables fitted around the interior of ships' hulls.
      The real dream, however, was still the achievement of sonar and radar


      In 1955, Morris K Jessup, a Washington car parts salesman with a doctorate
      in astrophysics from Michigan University, hit the jackpot with a book on
      all things fortean, The Case For the UFO (8), His lecture tours to promote
      the book were well attended. Jessup was a keen advocate of Einstein's
      Unified Field theory (UFT), a subject he enthused upon regularly to the

      On 13 January, 1956 he received a rather odd letter. In it, Jessup was
      taken to task over his support of UFT. The author of the letter, one Carlos
      Miguel Allende, proceeded to outline the story of the Eldridge in full -
      complete with the fantastic claim that the destroyer had been 'teleported'
      between Philadelphia and Newport News within minutes. Allende further
      claimed to be a crewman aboard the Andrew Furuseth.


      His father was English and his mother part French. He was born Carl
      Meredith Allen at 6:30 am on 25 May 1925, in a house on the corner of
      Rosslyn Street and Porter Street in Springdale, Pennsylvania (9). He had
      three brothers, Donald, Frank and Randolph, and a sister, Sarah.

      He had adopted his Hispanic name after living with gypsies, and claimed
      gypsy blood, although his family had no known gypsy connections. Carl was
      the oldest child. He had a brilliant reputation at school for maths and
      algebra and spoke several languages fluently, but was, according to his
      relatives, 'a drifter'. To Jessup he'd given his address as RD#1, Box 223,
      New Kensington, Pennsylvania.(10) His letter, however, was postmarked
      Gainesville, Texas.

      Curious, Jessup wrote to Allende, asking for more information. Four months
      passed; then on 25 May 1956, while Jessup was busy with the launch of his
      second book 'The Expanding Case for the UFO', another letter from the
      would-be gypsy appeared, but this time signed 'Carl M Allen'. Jessup's
      further questions - names of the Eldridge's crew, times, dates, etc -
      remained unanswered.

      Meanwhile, another curious development was taking place. Jessup was
      summoned to Washington, DC, for a meeting with the Office of Naval Research
      (ONR). Apparently, someone had mailed an annotated copy of Jessup's 'Case
      for the UFO' to the ONR. The annotations appeared to be written by three
      different people, who signed off as 'Mr A', 'Mr B.' and 'Jemi'. Each
      hand-written note gave answers to questions raised by Jessup in the book -
      and the handwriting, especially that of 'Mr A', was definitely Allende's.
      Jessup surrendered his two Allende letters to the Navy who had the Varo
      Corporation of Garland, Texas, produce 25 copies of the annotated book. Why
      the ONR did this remains a mystery. However, in March 1978, Allende/Allen
      sent a copy of the Varo edition to his father with a letter wherein he
      claimed: "enclosed is a book I co-authored with Professor Morris K Jessup
      of the University of Michigan nigh 24 years ago..." The letter concludes:
      "alone by myself with no Mr A or Mr B."

      So what about Jemi? Throughout the Varo edition 'Mr A' and 'Mr B' refer to
      each other as 'twins'. Gemini - the twins - was Allen's astrological sign.
      Jemi is a contraction of Gemini. Disappointing, perhaps... but at least
      Allen was a genuine seaman. His Certificate of Seaman's Service, no.
      Z-416175, exists.


      This is one of the enduring pillars of faith among the Philadelphia
      Experiment conspiracy theorists. Dr Manson Valentine, an oceanographer and
      zoologist, was the last person to see Jessup alive. He had invited him to
      dinner on 20 April 1959. According to Valentine, Jessup was "in a depressed
      state of mind" but was coming to see him that night to discuss a draft of a
      document in which he had reached some definite conclusions about the
      Philadelphia Experiment.

      Jessup's body, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, was found slumped at
      the wheel of his Station wagon at Matheson's Hammock in Dade County Park
      near Miami. A rubber hose was neatly attached to the exhaust and fed into
      an open rear window, which had been sealed with damp rags. No documents or
      manuscripts were found inside the car.


      On 24 March this year (1999), 15 of the Eldridge's crew reunited in
      Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the first time in 53 years. Naturally, the
      non-events of 1943 were a hot topic of conversation. "It's my impression
      it's from someone with a very good imagination. It's strictly science
      fiction," said organiser Robert Scheer, who joined the ship as a machinist
      mate 3rd class in March 1945. Bill Van Allen, the ship's executive officer
      at the time of the alleged goings-on, claimed to have "no knowledge of
      anything like that happening... I can't even conceive how the rumour got

      Interestingly, according to these veterans, the ship's disappearance can be
      explained by the simple fact that, although it called on many East Coast
      ports, it never docked at Philadelphia (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 24 + 26
      March 1999).

      There are at least two other interesting candidates for witnesses. One is
      Edward Dudgeon, a retired executive, who states that he was in the US Navy
      from 1942 to I945 and served in another destroyer close to the Eldridge,
      the USS Engstrom (DE 50). Dudgeon, who studied electronics at Iowa State
      University before joining the Navy (as Electrician's Mate third class petty
      officer), claims that the Engstrom was also fitted with the same secret
      equipment as the Eldridge.

      "The Eldridge and the Engstrom were in the harbour together," says Dudgeon.
      "In fact our ships were outfitted at the same time: the 48, 49, 50 and the
      Eldridge, in June or July of 1943. The Navy used to de-gauss all the ships
      in dry dock, even the merchant ships, otherwise the vessels acted as bar
      magnets which attracted the magnetic torpedoes.

      There was nothing unusual about the Eldridge. When we went ashore, we met
      with her crewmembers in 1944, we had parties, there was never any mention
      of anything unusual. Allende made up the whole thing."

      Did Dudgeon know Allende? He thinks not. But what about the notorious
      bar-room brawl? "I was one of the two sailors said to have disappeared,"
      Dudgeon claims. The other fellow was named Dave; he served on the DE 49.
      The fight started when some of the sailors bragged about the secret
      equipment and were told to keep their mouths shut. Two of us were minors -
      I cheated on my enlistment papers. The waitresses scooted us out the back
      door as soon as trouble began and later denied knowing anything about us..."

      What had Dudgeon to say about the mysterious 'teleportation' ? "The
      Eldridge had already left (Philadelphia) at 11 p.m. Someone looking at the
      harbour that night would have noticed she wasn't there any more and it did
      appear in Newport.

      She was back in Philadelphia Harbour the next morning, which seems like an
      impossible feat: if you look at the map, you'll see that merchant ships
      would have taken two days to make the trip. They would have required pilots
      to go around the submarine nets, the mines and so on at the harbour
      entrances to the Atlantic. But the navy used a special inland channel, the
      Chesapeake-Delaware Canal, that bypassed all that.

      We made the trip in about six hours." Why Newport? "That's where we loaded
      the explosives.
      I know that's where the Eldridge went, because we passed her as she was on
      the way back from Virginia, in Chesapeake Bay."

      The other claimant to have been a crewmember of the Eldridge is 'Drue'(12)
      He was in the Marine Corps for 22 years and goes under the one name. As
      Drue retired in 1993, it appears obvious that he was not in naval service
      in 1943; however, he claims to have 'flashbacks' of the Philadelphia

      The whole X-Files shooting match is in Drue's story: alien technology, a
      conspiracy to rewrite history, Nikola Tesla, etc. He claims that the
      Eldridge - with him in his 1943 incarnation - made a journey through time
      with convenient ports of call at Amistad Reservoir, Texas, in 1954;
      Chicago, Illinois, in 1969; Sebago Lake, Maine, 1997, etc. If you live in

      the following locations, keep an eye out as the Eldridge is due (presumably
      with the permission of the Greek Navy) in Imperial Reservoir, California
      (2005), the Great Salt Lake in Utah (2043); and Niagara Falls (in 3543).
      Its log book should make interesting reading; more tour dates and venues to
      be announced. (If you don't believe this, you can write to Drue at PO Box
      586026, Oceanside, California 92058-6026, USA.)

      Another player on Drue's team has also cleaned up on the lecture circuit;
      this is Alfred Bielek (13), who has both feet firmly in the
      secret-government-conspiracy-with-aliens camp.


      William L Moore and Charles Berlitz have a lot to answer for. If there is a
      launch pad for this enduring, entertaining, and hugely profitable legend,
      then it can be traced to an out-of-print book, which precedes Bill and
      Charlie's 'The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility' (I979) by a
      few years. It's called 'Thin Air', by R Burger and Neil Simpson. It's a
      work of well-penned fiction and says so on the cover. It stars a sailor
      having nightmares, and a destroyer called... yes, the USS Eldridge. And,
      surprise, surprise, much of the testimony of a character in Thin Air
      appears almost verbatim in Moore & Berlitz's 'factual' blockbuster.

      'Reality' imitating art? Conspiracy. Dozens of books. Movies. Dozens of web
      And still it goes on.
      Perhaps the final question is 'Why?'

      Morris Ketchum Jessup was a bright but gullible, depressed man.
      Carlos Allende appears as a classic eccentric with a vivid imagination.
      Moore and Berlitz's laughter can be heard yards away from the Bank.
      Gillian Anderson is lovely.

      All we have left are two queries.
      Why is the Eldridge's log book for July-December 1943 missing, and why did
      the Office for Naval Research have copies of Jessup's annotated book printed?

      If one writes to the US Navy today asking about all this, you'll get a
      standard "it never happened" letter.

      But the Area 51 freaks march on with "Ah, yes - but remember the stealth
      Why bother with research?
      Why waste time?
      Like dogs in a garden, it isn't always the bone we imagine is buried
      beneath the chrysanthemums that turns us on.
      The fun is in the digging.

      After his huge success charting the Bermuda Triangle, that wily old bird
      Charles Berlitz, in tandem with William L Moore, gave the Eldridge story
      his best shot in a mega-bucks 1979 book, The Philadelphia Experiment. Back
      in FT30, Bob Rickard described it as "a good read", adding that "one is
      left with no tangible or unequivocal proof, only a series of impressions
      based on the authors' word."

      A year later Berlitz and Moore were pivotal in regenerating the legend of
      the Roswell saucer crash, co authoring The Roswell Incident Moore went on
      to gain notoriety in UFO circles for his key roles in the MJ12 and Paul
      Bennewitz affairs (see FT 121 & 122)

      Borrowing loosely from suggestions made by Berlitz in Without a Trace
      (1977) and the later book, 1984 saw the release of The Philadelphia
      Experiment, an enjoyable film which follows the adventures of the two
      disappearing crewmen as they are blasted from 1943 into the future - well,
      1984. Not only do they have to contend with the vagaries of Reaganite
      America, but they must return to 1943 to stop the world being sucked into a
      messy "time tornado."

      "The claim that it was based on an actual incident seems a bit tall,"
      surmised the film critic Leslie Halliwell. A 1993 sequel involved secretive
      German World War I experiments, and an alternative present-day America
      under Nazi rule.

      Meanwhile, the 1995 'Dod Kalm' X-Files episode - see FT 82, brought the
      Berlitz and Moore themes together, hinting that alien technology was used
      in the Philadelphia Experiment. For the reverse scenario, in which a mod
      era aircraft carrier is sent back in time to Pearl Harbour, try The Final
      Countdown (1980) starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen.

      In recent years Eldridge lore has been woven tightly into the wider NW0
      conspiracy matrix by authors such as Al Bielek and 'Commander X'.

      The following extract is taken from the writings of net-scribe 'Branton'
      and demonstrates how far the story has evolved:
      "Forty years later the project [Project Rainbow, aka the Philadelphia
      Experiment] was reportedly taken over and continued by a cabal of CIA
      agents in league with the Bavarian Illuminati of Germany and it's [sic]
      fellow occult lodge, the Bavarian Thule Society, which had created the Nazi
      Empire. These experiments were carried out in an underground base below
      Montauk Point, Long Island, and involved time-space window experiments and
      mass microwave mind-control ... these fascists who had wrested control of
      the 'Philadelphia' technology from Navy Intelligence were at that time in
      full co-operation with the alien Grays in a joint effort to establish a
      one-world National Socialist Empire"

      Montauk, of course, was in the news recently as close to the scene of J FK
      s son s fatal plane crash. Cue spooky music.


      1). Albert Einstein (1879-1955) published his Unified Field Theory for
      Gravitation and Electricity in 1925. His mathematical research was based on
      the inexplicable results of earlier experiments by the German-born US
      physicist Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931) and Edward Williams Morley,
      (1838-1923), a US physicist and chemist.

      The resulting Michelson - Morley experiments were famous for their research
      into the 'etherdrift' and the speed of light. Einstein looked for some
      relationship between gravity, magnetism and electricity His theory was that
      the three elements were governed by similar forces, and his opinion was
      that by altering the relationship between magnetism and electricity,
      gravity and mass could also be manipulated. He withdrew his theory as

      2). See Patrick S Carbone, 'What Really Happened on The Eldridge' in FATE
      magazine (February 1997).

      3). As an ex-sailor, the author can verify that this is a common condition
      amongst the sea-going fraternity

      4). In Invisible Horizons (1965), Vincent Gaddis spells the name Andrew
      Furnseth - "a Matson Lines Liberty ship out of Norfolk"

      5). This is also a regular phenomenon with brawling seamen ashore...

      6). See Mack W. Shelton, Jr, 'Quest For Truth: The Philadelphia Experiment'
      in 'Planes of Reality' magazine (16 May 1996).

      7). Janes Fighting Ships simply gives her as 'USS Eldridge' (DE-173)
      -1943. Some researchers state she was launched on 25 Judy 1943. Curiously,
      her log book from August to December 1943 is recorded as "missing and

      8). Maurice K Jessup, The Case for The UFO (Citadel Press, 1955). See also
      FATE magazine, October 1980.

      9). Robert A Goerman, Alias Carlos Allende FATE magazine (October 1980) -
      available at www.parascope.com/en/articles/allende.htm

      10). See Brad Steiger & Joan Whitenour, New UFO Breakthrough: The A11ende
      Letters (Award Books, 1968). Steiger claims that an investigator visited
      Allende's address and found a vacant farmhouse. Vincent Gaddis makes a
      similar statement in Invisible Horizons. This has since been proved
      incorrect. The house has always been occupied and still owned by the
      Allen's today.

      11). Jacques Vall�e, 'Anatomy of A Hoax: The Philadelphia Experiment 50
      Years Later' in Journal of Scientific Exploration (v 8 n.1, Spring 1994,
      Stanford University CA.) - available at www.geocities.com/Area51/7354/Hoax.txt

      12). Drue -'I Survived A Journey Through Time' in FATE magazine (February

      13). See Brad Steiger, Alfred Bielek and Sherry Hanson-Steiger, The
      Philadelphia Experiment and
      Other UFO Conspiracies (Inner Light Publishing, NJ. 1990),


      New UFO Breakthrough, B Steiger & J Whitenour (1968)
      Thin Air R Burger & Neil Simpson


      US Naval Historical Centre's FAQ

      >** --------- End Original Message ----------- **

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