The Philadelphia Experiment: 60 Years Later
By Bill Knell
There are many different interpretations and views of what really happened, or didn’t, when the U.S. Navy embarked on a project to de-magnetize warships beginning in 1943. The information that I’m about to provide represents my best guess based on thirty years of research into an experiment that began sixty years ago and my own encounters with those who claim intimate knowledge about the project. What has become known as The Philadelphia Experiment is not a subject to be taken lightly. No matter what you believe about it or don’t, it’s a fact that several people have died or been killed as a direct result of claiming involvement with the experiment. I suggest that, if for no other reason than out of respect for them, you keep on open mind.
I grew up in the 1960’s and first became aware of the Philadelphia Experiment when I was just ten years old, while reading a number of non-fiction books about UFOs. The two subjects became linked when Morris K. Jessup wrote a book entitled The Case For The UFO in 1955. After the book was published, a mysterious man who called himself Carlos Miguel Allende wrote to Jessup in the first of a series of rambling correspondences. The letters seemed to indicate that Jessup’s call for open discussion and government disclosure of any knowledge about UFOs was a waste of time. According to Allende, there were other forces at work which sought to protect various secrets regarding how UFOs were powered and did the things they did.
Although Jessup was not impressed with Allende’s letters, he was more then a little surprised after being contacted by three Navy Officers who worked for the Office of Naval Research. Although they claimed the contact was not official and made on their own initiative, they seemed disturbed by an annotated copy of Jessup’s book that the ONR had received. The book had notes scribbled in it by what appeared to be three different people, but most now agree it was the work of Allende. Again, the references seemed to indicate that the government had accidentally discovered how UFOs are able to manipulate time and space through a Navy Project designed to make ships invisible.
After contact with the Navy, Jessup was certain that he had stumbled on to something and thrust all his efforts into finding out what it was. By 1959, Jessup had assembled an impressive portfolio of research into what the U.S. Military knew and was hiding from the public about UFOs and the secret Navy Experiment. Set to testify about these matters before a Florida Senator and several interested parties, Jessup set off to drive from his home in Florida to Washington, D.C. in 1959. He never made it. Morris K. Jessup was found dead in his car just off a highway in Dade County, Florida. He had died from exposure to carbon monoxide. Although his death was ruled a suicide, non of his papers or the extensive research he had recently completed could be located.
I read about some of this in a book published in the 1960’s by Jessup’s friend and colleague, Ivan T. Sanderson. Sanderson wasn’t just another author, he was a scientist who believed in the possibility of Alien visitations to Earth based on the available evidence. Shortly before his death, Jessup gave Sanderson a copy of The Case For The UFO, which contained his notes about annotations made by Allende. My own interest in the Navy Project might have been satisfied at that point, but for a chance meeting with a former sailor who had been at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard during World War II.
In 1973, I visited the family of my best friend’s bride to be in Florida. We all got together to discuss and further plan for the upcoming wedding. Aimee’s father was a retired sailor named Joseph. He was a polite, but serious individual. During a lighter moment in conversation, I happen to mention the Navy Project that I read about and it’s supposed connection to Flying Saucers. There had been a number of UFO sightings in Florida during that time and the topic was on everyone’s lips.
After dinner, Aimee’s father sat down across from me while the others muddled through some wedding plans. He became very serious and told me that in 1944 he had met another sailor who seemed deeply disturbed about the outcome of a strange experiment connected to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1943. The man claimed that his best friend died during that experiment. Joseph and his new acquaintance shared many conversations about it after becoming friends. The man said that after making some casual inquires, a doctor at the shipyard hospital confided to him that his friend had died as a result of melting into the ship’s superstructure. The physician claimed the man was still alive when they tried to free him from part of the deck, but he had been fused with it!
I encouraged Joseph to write down everything he could remember about his conversations with the sailor. He agreed and actually took things a step further. He attempted to contact the man whom he had befriended years before, but hadn’t heard from in some time. A mutual friend told him that the sailor had passed away, but provided a contact phone number for his widow. When Joseph called, the woman accepted his condolences and the two had a brief conversation. It seems that after the sailor retired in the 1960’s, he tried contacting others who had been a part of the Navy Project to get more information on the death of his friend. He died just a few months later in a hit and run car accident. This made Joseph think twice about his own investigation which abruptly ended after that call.
From then on, I began to seriously research the Philadelphia Experiment. By the 1980’s, a book on the subject had been published by William Moore and Charles Berlitz entitled The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility. The book was the short version of some truth, various theories and wild notions by Berlitz. Moore was forced to endure some of the nonsense included in the book in order to get it published. While Moore was new to the publishing world, Berlitz had already written a successful and equally vague book on the Bermuda Triangle.
While the Moore and Berlitz book brought attention to the subject and satisfied those already mildly interested in the subject matter, most of the attention came in the form of scorn and skeptical criticism. Critics pointed to what they felt were a number of glaring errors and historical inaccuracies. Things got worse when a major Hollywood Film based on the book was released in 1984. Instead of being a documentary style piece, it was a fictionalized account of the Navy Project that turned out to be a sci-fi love story mixed with ridiculous twists and turns.
The Moore and Berlitz publication was followed by various lesser books that were little more then large pamphlets designed to take advantage of the subject’s temporary rise in popularity. None had answered the big questions or taken on what really happened during the 1940’s. As time moved on, I met more people who claimed involvement with the project. One such person was a guy named Jonathan Jessup. He claimed to be the son of Morris K. Jessup, but that and all his other stories about being abducted by government spies as a child and used for experimentation proved to be untrue. He vanished from the scene when it was obvious he had made the whole thing up.
In 1989, I was able to film and question three witnesses who also claimed to have been involved with the original project and a follow-up attempt which apparently took place during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The interview and a presentation by them took place at a private home on Long Island and included just a few specially invited guests. Although some of their claims seemed insane, I was intrigued. Knowing what the topic would be beforehand, I brought with me a technical writer who had a good understanding of electronics, magnetic fields and electrical engineering. I wanted his professional opinion regarding the technical aspects of their information. To make a long story short, he did not sleep for several days after the event having been completely stunned by what he heard.
I, too, was shocked by the information I received from Al Bielek, Preston Nichols and Duncan Cameron. But being a Paranormal Researcher with years of experience, I’ve learned to always look at the bigger picture, not individual stories or pieces of evidence which are always subject to personal interpretation. In this case, it was obvious these men had been through something. They had far too much knowledge and impressively cohesive stories to be faking it, although I did not necessarily agree with all of their conclusions.
By the mid-1990’s, I had been speaking on The Philadelphia Experiment as part of one of my UFO Seminars for many years. As a result, a number of people had shared what they knew about the Navy Project with me. None wanted any publicity. The exception was a man named Phil Schneider. By coincidence, I was set to present a Seminar in the same hotel a few days after a Global Sciences Conference where he was speaking. Having arrived early for publicity purposes, I attended some of the conference and heard Phil speak.
Although he rambled at times and was not the best Speaker, I got the gist of his message and we spoke privately for a brief period the following day after a workshop. It seemed that Phil’s father had been a part of the original Philadelphia Experiment as a Ship’s Doctor. Phil, himself, had extensive Government involvement having worked as a Geologist during the construction of various underground installations and in other capacities. By the time I met him, Schneider had been speaking on the subjects of the Navy Project and his own intimate knowledge of the government cover-up regarding UFOs and Aliens for just a short time. With several fingers missing on each hand and gunshot wounds to his body, it was obvious that he had been through something and that not everyone was pleased with his willingness to share the truth. In 1996, Phil Schneider was found dead in his apartment with tubing wrapped around his neck. As in the case of Morris K. Jessup, Phil’s death was ruled a suicide.
I doubt that anyone, except those with direct involvement, know the true and entire story of the Philadelphia Experiment. But here is my take on what happened:
Several young scientists at Princeton University, in New Jersey, had been working on various physics projects involving time travel, time displacement and using strong magnetic fields to move and manipulate objects (from a purely theoretical standpoint). This was all done on paper and nothing could be proved. After World War II began, most knew that the U.S. was secretly trying to developed an atomic weapon that would end the War quickly. Many of the scientists, like Einstein, were concerned that this weapon was not something that could be put back in the box after the War was won.
The Navy had their own doubts about the atomic weapon. They were certain that nothing less the a full naval assault on the main islands of Japan would end the war. In the meantime, they faced another problem. The Navy was losing ships to German U-boat attacks and a new type of mine that the Nazis were using which was attracted to the partially magnetized hulls of ships. They needed to find a way to quickly de-magnetize ships and make them invisible to U-boats and other attack ships and planes. By the time the Navy approached Albert Einstein and other prominent Princeton scientific luminaries for help in these matters, they had tried a number of methods to achieve their goal.
The Navy degaussed ships in port, but this was a time consuming method of demagnetizing that was impractical during wartime. They also tried using various exotic paint mixtures designed to refract or redirect light away from their ships, but this still left them visible and vulnerable to air forces, radar and sonar. When the Navy came calling at Princeton, a few young physicists saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. They would solve the Navy’s little problem and, at the same time, test some of their own theories regarding time displacement and using strong magnetic fields to manipulate matter in a real world setting.
Although his work during World War Two remains classified today, Albert Einstein was under contract to the Navy during that time. What I have been able to glean from many sources is that Einstein preferred the development of strong defensive weapons, instead of the offensive Atom Bomb he was certain would lead to complete destruction of the human race. Those who agreed with him at Princeton were invited to join his efforts. This group of scientists told the Navy they could make a ship invisible to radar, sonar and would work on ways to effectively hide it from view. Of course, they didn’t explain the actual nature of the technology they were planning on using to accomplish this goals.
Because it was close to Princeton, secure and had ships available for experimentation, the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was chosen as the physical home of the project. A new and not yet commissioned ship, which would eventually be the USS Eldridge, was chosen as the test craft for the project. The first part of the experiment took place at the shipyard in 1943 when a powerful electromagnetic field was used to instantly degauss the ship without any damage to electronic equipment on board. The vessel also became invisible to radar, but an unexpected and more then welcomed side effect occurred that the scientists hoped for, but the Navy didn’t expect. It briefly vanished from sight, becoming what the observers had thought was invisible.
In reality, the ship had briefly moved to another time and place, having returned when the off-ship field generating equipment was shut down. Some small animals placed on board in cages died after a strange greenish glow encircled the hull just before and after the ship vanished. No humans were on board during that test and the details of the animal deaths were ignored by Navy Officials over-seeing the project after being told the fields in use could be adjusted for safety. The experiment moved forward.
By 1944, a sea trial was ordered. The Eldridge was manned and surrounded by several other ships. All carried the same technology with the hope that convoys of radar and sonar invisible ships would pass U-boats and other enemy craft undetected, but the Eldridge was the only vessel given permission to power up to full field strength on that occasion. With many observers, including a Merchant Marine later known as Carlos Allende aboard one of the support ships, the experiment commenced off the coast of New Jersey.
While everyone watched, the Eldridge powered up it’s field generation equipment. As before, a strange green glow appeared and the ship began to fade from sight. On board, things started to go badly. Sailors became disoriented, couldn’t see and some were burnt by the green mist. Others faded into the deck and superstructure of the ship.
Moments after it vanished in 1944 off the Jersey Coast, the Eldridge briefly appeared in 1983 off of the coast of Long Island. That occurred because the ship had been pulled through a sort of time displacement worm hole simultaneously created by the 1944 experiment and another taking place as a follow-up project at a Government Base thought to be abandoned near Montauk Point. When the Montauk Base shut down their power, the ship was pulled back to 1944 and reappeared seconds after it had vanished.
Upon it’s return, strange objects were seen above the ship. These may have been UFOs. It’s possible and likely that humans had just discovered how Aliens (if they exist) were able to warp and manipulate time and space fields to move about as they liked. But in 1944, humans lacked the technology or computers to control such powerful energy fields. The result was that a third of the crew died, having become a part of the ship’s wooden deck and steel superstructure. Many parts of the ship were covered with canvas to conceal the dead, before it was allowed to return to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard that night.
Those who survived the 1944 sea trial sometimes faded back and forth between time periods. An article in a 1944 edition of the Philadelphia Enquirer stated that during a bar fight at a local dive where sailors and workers from the Navy Shipyard drank, two sailors briefly became translucent and even transparent fading into the rear wall of the bar! Others went insane. By 1945, the Navy had all the remaining sailors locked up in the shipyard hospital’s mental ward. What became of them after that, I don’t know.
While Nay Sayers point out that members of the commissioned Eldridge’s crew say none of this ever happened on their watch, most of what happened did so before the ship was commissioned or during times when a special crew was placed on board for the project. Even looking at the Eldridge’s logbook wouldn’t help, because nothing about the secret project would be in it. Although it has been reported that around fifty pages are missing from that logbook.
Regarding Einstein’s possible involvement, he was never seen at the shipyard. It’s possible that his position with the project was more a ceremonial one allowing the Navy to make use of whatever ideas he cared to input, while other physicists and engineers were given carte blanche on the scene to do whatever was necessary to get the job done. Most of them were young, ambitious and eager to test their theories in the real world.
Although disappointed at some of the results of the sea trials, the Navy realized that a new and exciting technology had been discovered and weren’t about to let it go. Not only had the project shown them that the use of controlled energy fields could produce the ability to move objects rapidly through time and space, but the fields produced an effect on the human mind. After some of the sailors from the 1944 sea trials went insane, the Navy wondered if that effect could be controlled and directed at friendly forces to make them fight fearlessly or at enemy forces to force their surrender?
All these theories would later be tested at what once had been the home of World War II shore batteries and, later, a radar facility used to protect coastal areas from incoming bombers or missiles during part of the Cold War. Willing and unwilling participants were apparently brought to the government facility known as Camp Hero near Montauk Point to test the new technology. Because these tests attracted UFOs, it was no accident that thousands of sightings occurred during that time period. This lead some UFO researchers to erroneously conclude that Long Island hosted some sort of base for UFOs somewhere offshore. Rudder, a boating magazine, ran a 1969 article warning boaters that a number of pleasure craft had encountered UFOs off the Long Island coast near Montauk and were unable to restart their engines after the objects moved within close proximity to them.
Most of what happened at Montauk occurred underground. Tunnels were build for miles in and around the Montauk property by the alternative energy genius Nicola Tesla for his own work with electrical fields many years before the project arrived. These tunnels and others used for the shore batteries during World War II became the perfect setting for one of our nation’s greatest secrets. While the old radar dish left behind after it became obsolete was used to test the mind control aspects of the new technology by transmitting waves out in all directions above ground, humans were strapped into a special chair and transported through time and space in the underground area.
Sound crazy? Once the dish became active and thought-altering signals were shot out for twenty miles in all directions, quiet towns that haven’t had their own jails or police departments since the Revolutionary War started to experience crime waves. People just went nuts! There may also be strong proof that the time displacement chair was real and had been used under the Base. During one of the time travel experiences that Al Bielek told me about, he found himself at some future point in New York City surrounded by debris. It looked as if half the city had been destroyed. Although he would not elaborate, if you were to watch my video of what he did reveal about that particular time journey, you might come to the same conclusion that I did. The time displacement chair under Montauk may have transported Bielek to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks over ten years before they occurred and what he saw was probably the debris from the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings!
The proof of a any wild story that might just be true lies in it’s longevity. If so, the Philadelphia Experiment has survived sixty years of false witnesses, bad film portrayals, ridiculous books, non-stop Nay Sayers and still remains alive and well, refusing to go down as merely an urban legend. Personally, I am a nuts and bolts type of Paranormal Researcher who has little use for wild, metaphysical claims. Despite any psychic or new age sideshows that might try and associate themselves with the project in all it’s various forms and incarnations, I do believe that the Philadelphia Experiment happened and resulted in a new and dangerous technology for the U.S. Government to tinker with. As a result, people have been silenced, killed or possibly even erased from existence. Whether you believe it happened as described or not, it’s likely that your life and millions of other lives have already been changed or influenced by The Philadelphia Experiment.