What is Google Doing With All Those Shipping Containers?

 In International Shipping, shipping containers

A barge appears on the water with a structure built on it of shipping containers stacked four stories tall. Then another. One in San Francisco floating near Treasure Island. The other in the Portland Harbor.

Google's Shipping Container BargeDespite all the shipping containers, these are not international shipping vessels. So what are they?

Ask Google. But don’t expect them to tell you.

Articles have been popping up left and right online about these mysterious shipping container structures floating on the water. All the articles keep coming to the conclusion that Google owns them. What they can’t agree on is what they’re for.

According to the Portland Press Herald:

Some experts who were shown photographs of the structures speculate that they could possibly be prototypes for floating data centers that would use ocean water for cooling servers and ocean waves for energy.

Google was granted a patent in 2009 for such a structure.

CNET found an engineer, who has been kept anonymous by his or her own request, that claimed to work on a project around the time Google got the patent for a Google backup data storage center. Daniel Terdiman reported the following from the source on CNET:

Google was “looking at putting together a data center, or really…a backup center, in case of some kind of natural disaster,” the engineer told me. “They’d have all their data from the region backed up at this center. This could easily tow it with a tug out of the area, and be able to easily bring it back in and get it up and running while facilities would be down in the area. And…the master plan at the time was to build upwards of a dozen of these things. About four in the States, and then have them worldwide, over in Asia, Europe, South America. They were planning on putting in a lot of these things worldwide.”

While backup storage centers would make sense for Google, more articles than not think these structures are meant to be floating stores for Google Glass–the new computer Google has been developing that users wear like a pair of glasses.

Either way, Google isn’t saying and the mystery becomes more enticing for people.

The mystery gained another layer of interest as construction has suddenly stopped.

According to a CBS affiliate, the reason for the construction suddenly stopping is Google doesn’t have a permit:

Google does not have a permit for a floating anything.

“Google has spent millions on this,” said an insider close to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. “But they can’t park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they don’t have one.”

A BCDC official confirmed the agency has held discussions with Google about “hypothetical operations” on the water, but he complained the tech giant has been vague about how the barge would be used.

Is Google building floating data centers, Google Glass stores on the water, or a fleet of shipping container bases for their plots of world domination?

Surely the shipping container structures couldn’t be for dastardly purposes when built by a company with a motto of “Don’t be evil.”

Maybe the shipping container structures are just party barges for Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergy Brin. We do know at this point what happens on the barge stays on the barge.

If you know what Google is doing with all those shipping containers, let us know in the comments below.

And as always, if you need a shipping container for, you know, actually shipping something, contact us for afree rate quote on your international shipping needs.

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