Myths & Legends

The Philadelphia Experiment

The Philadelphia Experiment is an alleged event during which the United States Navy successfully teleported a Navy destroyer. They also made it invisible. Despite being well known as either a hoax or the ravings of a lunatic, people still believe that the Philadelphia Experiment was real and that there is a large conspiracy to cover it up. This could be because of the intrigue and awesome claims made by the story or it could simply be out of morbid curiosity regarding the alleged results of the experiment. Whatever it is, the story of the Philadelphia Experiment has made it into the annals of U.S. legend.

philadelphia experiment

USS Eldridge

The story of the Philadelphia Experiment begins in October of 1943 in Norfolk, Virginia, though the story did not turn up until more than ten years later. Truth be told, it is possible that nothing untoward happened in Norfolk at that time but, for the sake of chronology, we will start there. Some men aboard the SS Andrew Furuseth reportedly saw a ship spontaneously appear in the water in Norfolk on October 28. The story goes that it came from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had first disappeared and was then instantaneously transported to Norfolk. The disappearance and the teleportation were apparently two different functions of the experiment. In other words, the disappearance was not the result of the teleportation, but rather came before it.

Once the USS Eldridge — the boat reportedly used in the Philadelphia Experiment — reached Norfolk, it was clear something went wrong. Some of the men had disappeared during the trip. Others had gone mad. Some kept becoming invisible and then regaining their forms. Others still had become fused — yes, fused — with the ship in various ways. Perhaps that is why no U.S. ships are currently equipped with invisibility cloaks and teleportation devices. It could also be that the story is completely made up.

The story of the Philadelphia Experiment comes from a man named Carlos Allende or “Carl Allen.” Carlos wrote a detailed description of the event, along with claims he was a witness aboard the SS Andrew Furuseth when the USS Eldridge arrived in Norfolk, Virginia. He mailed the description to the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. The public got hold of the story and it took off, despite the many unlikely events described in the letter.

Carlos Allende wrote that the Philadelphia Experiment was made possible by Einstein’s “unified field theory.” Einstein supposedly told Carlos all about it himself. This is not direct proof that the story is mere myth, but it does lend a bit to the crazy factor of the claims. Firstly, it is common for such myths to borrow from the genius and fame of great scientists. Oftentimes, it is easy to refute these myths because the works of great men are typically followed closely. There is no evidence that Einstein ever met Carlos Allende and there is no evidence that his work resulted in a disastrous teleportation.

The USS Eldridge, like most other Navy ships, especially in war times, had a thorough log of where it had been in October of 1943 and the months around it. These logs are currently public information. According to them, the ship was nowhere near Philadelphia in October, 1943. The SS Andrew Furuseth was also not in Norfolk at any time the Eldridge was present. Furthermore, William S. Dodge — the man in command of the boat at the time of the Philadelphia Experiment — later said that neither he, nor any of his crew, saw anything strange in Norfolk, Virginia.

After receiving the odd information, the Office of Naval Research did an investigation. They did not find so much as evidence that the U.S. Navy was interested in teleportation. Of course, rendering ships invisible is always an interest, but that is largely as it pertains to radar, not to the human eye. As far as the U.S. Navy is concerned, no such technology exists. So, there is no proof of Einstein’s connection to a naval project aimed at invisibility of solid objects and teleportation. There is no evidence that Carlos Allende met Einstein. There is no evidence that Einstein developed such technology. There is evidence contrary to the USS Eldridge’s alleged presence in Philadelphia and Norfolk on October 28, 1943. There is evidence contrary to Allende’s claims that he and others witness the event. There is no evidence, apart from the writings of Carlos Allende, which supports this legend.

The Department of the Navy, Naval History & Heritage Command, retrieved 8/2/11, The Philadelphia Experiment
The Real Philadelphia Experiment, retrieved 8/2/11,


Les currently resides in London and is an ancient alien theorist. He has a long standing interest in the paranormal and the unexplained. In his spare time he enjoys astronomy and Xboxing. It's a big Universe out there.