The Philadelphia Experiment (Project Rainbow)

In or around October 28, 1943, the American Cannon-class destroyer escort, USS Eldridge, allegedly disappeared from its berth at the Philadelphia Naval Yards, was sighted briefly off Norfolk, VA (215 miles away) then reappeared in Philadelphia minutes later. Witnesses say it happened, others, including the U.S. Navy say nonsense.

Various versions of what happened are touted by conspiracy theorists:

An experiment (officially known as Project Rainbow) was conducted by Dr. Franklin Reno (or Rinehart) in an attempt to bend light around the “Eldridge” and render it invisible.

Researchers were preparing specialized equipment designed to detect magnetic and gravitational anomalies under the sea floor.

A test took place on July 22 in which the warship was rendered almost invisible (some observers reported the ship encased in a green fog). A second test on October 28, ostensibly to make the ship invisible to radar, caused the Eldridge to totally disappear followed by the short lived appearance off Virginia and the subsequent reappearance in Philadelphia.

The effects of the experiment on the crew were apparently catastrophic, some sailors merging with the vessel’s decks and bulkheads, others disappearing alltogether. Horrified the navy immediately canceled further tests.

Whether or not the Philadelphia Experiment actually took place is mired in controversy, witnesses and their claims found to be inconsistent and unreliable, logs from the Eldridge and veterans eyewitness testimony seeming proof that not only wasn’t it involved in experiments (the ship was apparently undergoing sea trials in the Bahamas during the dates indicated), it apparently hadn't been anywhere near Philadelphia.

Possible explanations as to the stories origins, include:

The ship was seen undergoing a common degaussing (deperming) procedure, in which electric current flowing through cables wrapped around a ship’s hull creates an electromagnetic field which neutralizes the ship’s own magnetic field thereby rendering it less attractive (or invisible) to magnetic mines.

It was part of a disinformation campaign by the Navy or some other governmental agency aimed at both alarming and undermining the confidence of countries such as Germany and Japan with which the U.S. was at war.

It really happened.

It was a practical joke.

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