The mystery of exactly what Google is building on a barge close to San Francisco deepened today as a MailOnline investigation uncovered a second structure being built hastily at the top secret site.
The huge structure, made up of specially modified shipping containers, looks set to be identical to the first. Another, identical barge has been spotted thousands of miles away on the East Coast in Portland, Maine.
Speculation is rampant over what the barges will be used for – with the two most likely reasons being floating showroom ‘party boats’ to market Google Glass or data centers that can be cooled by sea water.
Such is the level of secrecy surrounding the project – said to be overseen by Google founder Sergey Brin himself and his Google X team – even members of the Coast Guard have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements along with the teams of engineers and welders who have been working there.
Thinking outside the box: These containers were being prepared to be put onto the second barge – but Google won’t say what the boats will be used for sparking rampant speculation
Undeterred, MailOnline visited the Treasure Island site twice – and on each trip was followed by private security guards after hiring a boat to come closer than anyone else so far to the mystery project.
And from what MailOnline has seen and heard it is most likely the barges are showrooms, despite their rather depressing exterior – which hide tantalizing clues as to their true use.
Even when walking around the huge hangar site where the barges are being constructed, the car followed us – stopping close by when we talked to passing dog-walkers.
The location, on Treasure Island just outside San Francisco, contains a large hangar known simply as ‘Building 3’, with one almost-complete barge moored on a pier outside.
The mysterious building is dotted with security cameras and wireless communication antenna, along with large signs warning it’s a ‘secure area’ with mobile phones banned from being used inside.
Heavies: MailOnline was watched every step of the way by cameras and security guards as we investigated
When MailOnline first visited the area on Thursday, the hangar next to the pier appeared deserted, with nothing outside.
However, returning today, we found a series of shipping containers that will form a second structure had arrived, along with the connecting trusses and walkways needed to complete the building on a second, empty barge that has been moored next to the first one.
Workers could also be seen erecting a large fence to stop people wandering onto the pier following the huge publicity they have suddenly attracted.
Even when we approached the barge by boat, a car quickly drove as close by as possible and a worker in a hi-visibility jacket watched our every move, and could be seen speaking into a walkie-talkie.
Once on shore, and walking close by the shipping containers destined to become a second structure, a driver following us rolled down the window and told us not to stray too close to the shipping containers being prepared to be lifted on the barge – but admitted we were free to take pictures.
Locals told us there had been no work on the project for several weeks – until yesterday.
We counted 12 large shipping containers, with instructions scrawled on them, outside the hangar, alongside the various connector trussed and panels needed to build the second structure.
It is believed there will be four barges in total, all registered to a Delaware corporation called By and Large LLC, an apparent nod to the fictitious company Buy and Large from WALL-E which looked after lazy and fat humans on a spaceship after Earth had become uninhabitable.
The barges are registered under the names BAL0001, BAL0010, BAL0011 and BAL0100, and MailOnline spotted a series of large laser cut metal signs with these numbers on at the San Francisco location – along with signs appearing to say ‘New’.
At one end of the barge, there are a series of pipes for water and sewage, which could be used, some say, for cooling computer equipment on board – or less mysteriously – toilets for guests.
Intriguingly there are walkways on the roof of the building, and staircases on one side, along with a small balcony and glass doors that open onto it.
The front of the barge also has large glass doors, and each container has a narrow window slit.
A large part of the structure is covered in thick black netting to shield it from prying eyes. And through the netting large glass windows can be seen – which when unveiled will give the white steel barge boxes a much more glamorous look than they have now.
The mysterious structures first appeared in Treasure island earlier this year, when a team of up to 60 welders worked 24 hours a day.
Google asked local firms to sign an NDA about the project, but we managed to find two firms who Google had decided not to approach.
‘The whole area was fenced in with screen so you couldn’t see,’ said Keith Miller, who runs a construction firm yards from the hangar.
‘There were 50-60 iron workers there around the clock, we’re definitely interested to find out what it is. They have 24 hour security driving around, and it definitely makes us interested.
‘It blocked our view of the Bay Bridge completely. They were cutting holes and windows in the side of some, and some parts had no walls at all.’
The containers were then slotted together ‘like Lego bricks’ on the barge to form the large structure, which is four stories high.
Along one side are 12 long tubes which could hold solar panels, be antenna of some kind or even be used as air vent for a cooling system. Twelve more are on the roof of the building.
Those working nearby believe that the barges will be used as some sort of glitzy showroom, rather than a data center from the materials they saw being carried in.
And sources have also told KPIX 5 that the first three floors will serve as showrooms that can be fitted with floor lighting while an upper ‘party deck’ can host bars and it is Google’s bid to outshine Apple – who’s stores have become iconic around the world.
Fresh: The barges – overseen by Google founder Sergey Brin and his Google X team – are said to be showrooms to take on Apple with their stores which have become landmarks around the world
‘They build in that hangar, you could hear and smell the welding,’ said one worker at the construction firm, who wanted to remain anonymous.
‘You could see a lot of glass going is, almost as if they were making homes or shelters.
‘There were windows and doors taken in – almost like building Lego houses.’
She added that, oddly, no computer equipment has been seen moved in.
‘Whatever they’re doing, it’s taking a hell of a lot of workers, they were there 24 hours for months.
‘A lot of money has gone into this project.’
A local sailing school had a prime view of site – until Google erected fences.
‘They’re very nice people, but it’s very hush-hush,” said a member of staff at the club.
‘It’s been here for a while, so it’s pretty old hat now.’
‘There was a lot of glass – it looked like it could be a beautiful piece of architecture, they’ve added glass bay windows, then it was covered up.
World domination: Another barge was spotted in Portland, Maine, thousands of miles away this week
Red herring? Speculation at first focused on this Google patent from 2009 for a sea-cooled data farm
‘A friend of mine thinks it could even be a pop-up party barge, which would be pretty cool – but it doesn’t look like a data center from what we’ve seen – but we haven’t seen very much.
‘We asked a guy there, and he told us you’ll see what it is soon enough – it’ll all make sense, he said, so I think it’s something they are planning to announce with a lot of fanfare.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2483499/EXCLUSIVE-Theyre-multiplying-THIRD-mystery-Google-barge-lurking-San-Francisco-bay-MailOnline-takes-closest-look-secret-party-boats—followed-step-way-security-guards.html#ixzz2jRhG7V00
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