Picture of Paranormal researcher Maxim Furek

The Philadelphia Experiment and the Florida Connection

By Maxim Furek

The Philadelphia Experiment is an urban myth that, after many twists and turns, reached a dubious conclusion, here, in the Sunshine State. Although unknown to most researchers, Frederick G. Tracy and Dr. Morris Jessup may have held the key to unlocking the secret of this eighty-year-old mystery. 

As the legend goes, The Philadelphia Experiment was a World War II experiment, that accidentally teleported the USS Eldridge, a destroyer escort, over 200 miles from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia. Utilizing an innovative technology known as “cloaking,” Tesla coils were attached around the ship and then charged with high voltages of electricity, attempting to render the ship and its crew invisible to the enemy. But, during the “return trip,” the crew suffered horrible physiological effects, some partially embedded in the steel deck yet still alive. The survivors were declared insane and sent away to military hospitals. Their families were told that they were lost at sea.

                    USS Antietam 

Frederick G. Tracy, LTCM Ret., served in the United States Navy from 1944–1954. Like many sailors serving on the East Coast, Tracy heard ominous rumors about the Philadelphia Experiment and a degaussing operation that went haywire. 

               Degaussing Technique 

During World War II, magnetic mines wreaked havoc on Allied shipping crossing the Atlantic. The degaussing technique was a secret procedure that neutralized the magnetic field of a ship’s hull using electricity generated through massive cables. The method rendered the vessel invisible to radar and less vulnerable to enemy mines and torpedoes. 

Tracy was involved in a degaussing operation conducted at a top-secret Annapolis, Maryland, installation, while serving aboard the USS Antietam an aircraft carrier.  

Wrapped with three-inch diameter cables spaced 15 feet apart, the Antietam was bombarded with considerable electricity charges for three days, time enough to penetrate the eight-inch-thick steel hull. But, like the USS Eldridge, the intended degaussing procedure had harmful effects. Tracy’s exposure rendered his lung capillaries virtually useless. He suffered from bilateral bulla emphysema, requiring him to carry about a supply of liquid oxygen. At 60, he had shock-white hair and glassy, reddened eyes.        

Tracy claimed he had proof that the Philadelphia Experiment occurred, citing an official 1945 document. Due to widespread rumors and low morale, the Secretary of the Navy, Admiral James Forrestal, issued a directive admitting to the allegations. Forrestal’s memo was read to them during the final days of World War II and acknowledged that the USS Eldridge’s degaussing operation had gone wrong. The crew were sworn to secrecy and repeatedly warned that it would be an act of treason to reveal the directive’s contents. 

Despite eyewitness accounts from Tracy and others, the U.S. Navy maintains that no such experiment was ever conducted. Furthermore, authorities deny that the physics the experiment is claimed to be based on is nonexistent. After contacting the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., Richard A. von Doenhoff responded to this writer: 

“As far as the Department of the Navy can determine, the fictitious story of the destroyer (USS Eldridge) from the Delaware River off the League Island Navy Yard to Hampton Roads back in 1943 began as a practical joke among staff members of the Naval Research Laboratory here in Washington. The humorous commentary on a theoretical paper on electromagnetism got out of hand and soon achieved the status of fact and legend.”

            Dead Men Don’t Tell Tales

Still, others believe that something happened in 1943 and that astronomer Dr. Morris K. Jessup played a vital role. His book, The Case for the UFO, attracted the attention of the U.S. Navy, determined to find out what the scientist knew about World War II experiments. 

On April 19, 1959, Jessup contacted oceanographer Dr. J. Manson Valentine. Claiming to have made a breakthrough regarding the Philadelphia Experiment, Jessup arranged to meet with him the next day. According to Valentine:

“He was convinced that the Navy, in seeking to create a magnetic cloud for camouflage purposes in October 1943, had uncovered a potential that could temporarily, and if strong enough, perhaps permanently, rearrange the molecular structure of people and materials so that they would pass into another dimension with further implications of predictable and as yet uncontrolled teleportation.

Jessup never revealed his breakthrough discovery. A Florida park attendant discovered his body on April 20, 1959. Jessup’s 1958 Chevy Station Wagon was parked in Miami’s Matheson Hammock Park. The car’s engine was still running, and a hosepipe attached to the exhaust had been fed through the driver’s side window. 

Although Jessup’s death was considered an apparent suicide, some believed he had been murdered for what he knew about UFOs, anti-gravity propulsion, and the Philadelphia Experiment. After 80 years, The Philadelphia Experiment remains one of the most obscure wartime mysteries. Fred Tracy and Dr. Morris Jessup may have provided some answers, but took their secrets to the grave. 

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