‘Google Barge' plans in hot water, project said to be ‘on hiatus'

It’s been over a month since we heard any new information about the ‘Google Barge,’ which is expected to become a floating showroom in San Francisco Bay for some of the company’s newest technologies. It seems there’s a good reason for the lack of news on that front, as Google’s plans have apparently been put “on hiatus.”

After observing that several weeks had passed without any visible progress being made in the barge’s construction, CNET reports that work on the floating structure came to a halt shortly after the United States Coast Guard conducted an inspection of it on October 23. The Coast Guard has said that it “did not stop any work on” the barge, implying that they did not directly instruct Google to halt their development efforts, but CNET speculates that there may have been concerns regarding the barge’s “suitability for being visited by members of the public.”

This assertion seems to be supported by Brad McCrea of San Francisco’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), who said: “We have learned that the barge is still under construction, albeit in a hiatus, and likely will not be completed until late spring 2014. In addition, Google is still exploring options for how to use the barge when it is completed.” McCrea added: “It’s our understanding that the design changes are to the interior of the vessel, as requested by the Coast Guard.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has not commented further on its inspection or its possible involvement with Google's apparent decision to suspend construction work.

BCDC has its own concerns regarding Google’s plans for the barge, and has done for some time. In October, the organisation's executive director, Larry Goldzband, said: "The law is crystal clear in this case: The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land," raising doubts about whether the barge will even be permitted to operate there as Google intends. BCDC says that Google has still not officially requested a permit to dock the barge in San Francisco, and even when that permit is sought, it is likely that it will only be granted on condition that the vessel does not remain moored there “for too long,” according to CNET. 

BCDC is also conducting an investigation, which is expected to take several weeks, into whether Google will need a permit allowing it to continue construction of the barge at its current location by Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The results of that review will determine “whether or not the barge can be constructed there or will have to be completed at a different location,” McCrea said. 

Source: CNET | Image via KPIX

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You'd think a company with Google's resources would've been able to clear all of the legal and technical hurdles before starting any of that. Or is it that they're so arrogant they thought they could get started on their little pet projects without all the required approvals?

I find it's just the opposite. In a big organization you get situations where everyone on the project thinks someone else is handling some detail when actually no one is doing it.

Spicoli said,
I find it's just the opposite. In a big organization you get situations where everyone on the project thinks someone else is handling some detail when actually no one is doing it.

That's why you have a project manager. A competent one, I mean.

So it's due to demands by the coast guard? Was it ever explained why it has to be a barge?! It's so strange. Does it NEED to float? I've understood it's to showcase new products (VR? Google Glass?) but come on... It does limit what they can easily do with it.

I heard that the barge was gonna be used to spy on us. Google had created a program similar to what the NSA is doing. And to bypass American privacy laws the barge would travel to international waters to conduct it's business.
It's very hard to believe Google needs some barge to sell me a cell phone.

It's not even a cool high-tech looking structure. This makes me think of the boat on 24 where they'd interrogate Jack Bauer, rather than a floating Times Square Apple Store.

Jackburtonhero said,
I heard that the barge was gonna be used to spy on us. Google had created a program similar to what the NSA is doing. And to bypass American privacy laws the barge would travel to international waters to conduct it's business.
It's very hard to believe Google needs some barge to sell me a cell phone.

I have never, for once, believed their story about it being a floating sales platform. Its cheaper and easier to build on land a temporary store (or even a semi-permanent one) than it would be to manage a barge.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. There is something else going on here, we're only getting a part of the story. This coming from a Google fan.

How is a barge going to travel to international waters?

Barges are flat-bottomed platforms, usually towed, that are used for transport along shores, rivers, canals, etc.

Something like this couldn't navigate on the open sea.

Talys said,
It's not even a cool high-tech looking structure. This makes me think of the boat on 24 where they'd interrogate Jack Bauer, rather than a floating Times Square Apple Store.

Wow, I thought the same thing.

lol, yeah - we had a small technical hiccup that's now been resolved. Sorry about that! No muzzles involved, thankfully.

Somebody pull the trigger too quickly on this one earlier? I thought they put a muzzle on the story for a sec...