Google Barges scuttled over fire safety concerns

When the Google barges started to catch the attention of geeks around the world over last year, we all wondered what the plan for the floating buildings was. We learned eventually that Google planned to use them as floating show rooms to show off technology. Just as construction appeared to be nearing completion Google pulled the plug and sent all of the barges to the scrap heap.

The buildings on top of the barges were made from recycled shipping containers fastened together to make rooms inside the building. Recently documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that shed light on why exactly Google pulled the plug on the barge plan.

The reason for stopping the project was that the contractor in charge of construction was hit with repeated fire-safety concerns from the Coast Guard. One quote taken from the documents by the WSJ made by Robert Gauvin, the Coast Guard acting chief of commercial vessel compliance reads, "These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board."

That statement was made to the contractor, Foss Maritime Co. Another Coast Guard inspector wrote that additional safety measures were needed in case people had to jump overboard in an emergency. Numerous other safety issues were raised, including whether or not evacuation of disabled persons had been considered. Last summer one of the barges headed to Portland to be scrapped.