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Mystery Google barges TORPEDOED by US govt: Showrooms declared death traps

EXPLOSION fears scuttle plans for floating wow-boxes

Google's ambitious plan to build floating showrooms out of giant barges was killed over fears the boats were death traps.

Documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveal the advertising giant ran afoul of US Coast Guard safety inspectors, who believed the barges posed a serious fire hazard to those on board.

In particular, the inspectors reckoned the chance of a catastrophic fire or explosion was too high – forcing Google to abandon the project.

"These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board," a coast guard official noted in one of the documents.

The US Coast Guard requires that all vessels undergo a safety inspection prior to entering service. And because one of the showroom barges would have operated within the San Francisco bay, the US National Park Service was also involved in the approval process.

Google did not respond to The Register's request for comment, nor did it say anything to the WSJ. The paper noted that it obtained the official documents through a Freedom of Information Act request to the US government.

Argy bargy ... one of Google's floating platforms Credit: James Martin, CNET

Google set the internet abuzz last year when the web goliath's platforms docked near San Francisco in California. After much speculation about it being a set of data centers, it seemed certain that the barges would be used as floating showrooms for Glass and other gear from the Chocolate Factory.

Once the chatter died down, however, the project stagnated and, before today, we had little reason why the company never moved forward with the project. Eventually, Google scrapped one of the barges and moved another up the California coast for safekeeping. ®

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