Two mysterious Google barges earmarked to become floating showrooms were scuttled after authorities decided they were a fire risk, new documents reveal.
They appeared in San Francisco and Portland, Maine, in the second half of 2013, but at the time Google would not reveal their planned purpose.
The firm later said they would become floating tech showrooms, but it has emerged that the US Coast Guard had repeatedly raised fire safety concerns.
In an email sent to Google in March 2013 – before the barges appeared – the Coast Guard warned that the barges would have “over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck” along with a “substantial amount of combustible material”.
A follow-up message in August said the boat’s designs did not have “certain fire safety features typically required” by vessels.
The following month, a safety inspector said Google needed to take more steps to make the barges safe.
A senior Coast Guard official became exasperated with the firm at one point, saying “significant work has already been performed without full consent of the Coast Guard”.
When the safety issues could not be resolved, Google was ordered to move its San Francisco barge in February.
It dismantled and sold its Portland barge for scrap in August.