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Barge Mystery Solved: Floating Structures Tied To Google

Posted: November 2, 2013

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Two floating structures on opposite sides of the country have provoked a lot of speculation. Now documents finally provide some cold, hard facts.

Two men fish in the water in front of a barge on Treasure Island in San Francisco on Tuesday. An unnamed source tells CBS the barge carries a building

Two men fish in the water in front of a barge on Treasure Island in San Francisco on Tuesday. An unnamed source tells CBS the barge carries a building "constructed of interchangeable 40-foot shipping containers that can be assembled and disassembled at will, allowing it to be placed on barges, trucks or rail cars and taken anywhere in the world." Jeff Chiu

Over the past week, two floating structures on opposite sides of the country have provoked a lot of speculation. Early on, the Internet settled on Google as a likely culprit. Could the barges off of San Francisco and Maine, the masses divined, be giant data structures built to circumvent NSA spying? Could they be huge, floating stores?

Well, yesterday, speculation was finally backed by cold, hard facts, when the Coast Guard responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from The (New London) Day.

The paper reports that the documents show the Coast Guard met with officials from Google, Turner Construction and Cianbro Corp. to talk about the project. The paper adds:

"Construction on a structure made of container units continued through July. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound took part in a conference call on July 1 with a naval architect, a marine transportation company and Michael Tierney, of Google Glass, to review the plans.

"The purpose of the vessel is not described in the documents, but they reveal a plan to operate the vessel in various ports, the first being New York Harbor."

KPIX-TV in San Francisco cites multiple unnamed sources familiar with the project saying the two barges are indeed mobile showrooms intended to out-wow the Apple Store concept.

The station reports that the barges include a three-level showroom and a party deck, all of which can be assembled and disassembled quickly to move the barge from place to place.

The station also adds that these showrooms will likely not be open to the general public; instead they're intended for Google VIPs.

Google, perhaps expectedly, has remained quiet on the issue.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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