Mysterious Google Barge Has New Home
Google Inc.’s mysterious floating technology showroom is heading to take up residence at the Port of Stockton, the port director confirmed.
Richard Aschieris said the port has made arrangements, through agents working on behalf of Google, to house the tech company’s barge that had been under construction at its previous mooring at Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.
“We’ve reached an agreement for them to dock at the Port of Stockton,” he said. “I’m absolutely delighted to have this agreement.”
Under the pact, the port would house the Google barge for six months, with Google paying the standard dockage fee. Given the watercraft’s roughly 200-foot length, that would be about $10,000 a month, Aschieris said.
“I don’t know when the arrival time is, but it could be anytime in the next six months, but it’s also likely sooner than later,” he said.
Relocation of the barge has been the subject of intense speculation for the past month, since the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission said the Treasure Island facility did not have the permits for the barge construction. Commission officials suggested it move to a shipyard within the bay.
Google itself has said little about the project, other than it would be used to demonstrate new technology. Reports have generally come from sources such as the Treasure Island Authority and the commission.
By going to the Port of Stockton, the barge would find a home with a history of ship and barge construction and outfitting that is also outside of the jurisdiction of the bay commission.
The port has heavy lifting cranes and regularly handles large structural cargo, such as power generators and wind-energy windmills.
“The port recently did major retrofits on the Marine Highway barges that we operate,” Aschieris noted.
Also, like all other commercial seaports, the Stockton port has been put under limited-access, tight security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and creation of the Department of Homeland security.
“That in this case, is a huge advantage vs. doing it in a public marina,” Aschieris said.
Even before being contacted by Google representatives, the port director said he’d been swamped by media calls and public inquiries over speculation the barge might come to Stockton.
“People are very excited about the possibility of this coming to Stockton, and they want to talk about it,” he said.
As an example, Aschieris said that he drew a crowd while attending the men’s University of the Pacific vs. Gonzaga basketball game.
“I was practically mobbed by people wanting to know about this and (asking), ‘Did we have an agreement?’ ”
The barge will likely be moored somewhere along the port’s western Rough and Ready Island docks, rather than the busier East Complex.
Aschieris said he welcomed Google’s interest in Stockton, not only in bringing its barge project to town but in recently hosting workshops to provide area small business owners training and one-year free services to help establish business websites.
“I’ve been very impressed by the company and the attention it’s given to Stockton,” he said.