The Google barge, photographed at Treasure Island in October 2013. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)
The Google barge, photographed at Treasure Island in October 2013. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)

Update, 3:25 p.m.: The Google barge has arrived in Stockton, greeted by enthusiastic local media coverage and binocular-wielding locals hankering for a look at one of the most ungainly looking mystery ships to have plied local waters in recent memory since the days of the Glomar Explorer.

Seriously — the barge has completed its tug-assisted odyssey from the briny depths of San Francisco Bay to the less salty if not quite pristine waters of our celebrated sister port to the east. Google even issued its own tongue-in-cheek statement about the voyage, which began at San Francisco’s Treasure Island about 2 a.m. Thursday:

“It’s been a busy six months for our barge and it’s grown tired of all the attention, so we are moving it to Stockton where it can have a break, enjoy the city’s delicious asparagus and warmer climate, and get a bit of rest before its next chapter.”

To hear Stocktonians tell it, they’re expecting the barge to do more than snack on local produce. Here’s the city’s mayor, quoted by Sacramento’s KCRA TV:

In a statement, Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva said the move is a sign of “profound economic recovery” for Stockton.

“Now with things getting better every day in Stockton, and a big name like Google coming here, (other businesses) will consider coming here, too,” Silva said.

Original post: The Google barge, long the subject of rumors and minor controversy, has left San Francisco Bay. Its new home, at least for now: Stockton.

The Stockton Record has the story:

Google Inc.’s mysterious floating technology showroom is due to take up residence at the Port of Stockton, the port director confirmed today.

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.

We’ll go with sooner. Helicopters from Bay Area news outlets have tracked the barge, propelled by two tugboats, as it moves east from Antioch. Twitter has been relayed the occasional semi-goggle-eyed report from along the route of the 80-mile voyage:

The barge is expected to arrive in Stockton, also known as Mudville, Fat City and (as of this writing) The Jewel of the San Joaquin, late Thursday morning.

Ever since its existence was reported last year, onlookers have been speculating about exactly what the megacraft is and what the megacompany intends to do with it. Would it be a floating data center? A floating store? The consensus, semi-confirmed by Google itself, is that the barge is being turned into a floating showroom for Google technologies. (CNET’s Daniel Terdiman broke the Google barge story last fall and wrote the definitive “life and times of the Google barge” story for the tech news site last week. He says the company has sunk $35 million into the project so far.)

The minor controversy around the barge has centered on where the thing will be docked long term. The San Jose Mercury News reported earlier this week that a year ago, long before the barge came to public attention, Google approached the National Park Service about tying up at Fort Mason, on San Francisco’s northern waterfront. The company suggested in presentations to NPS officials that it intended to move the barge to different locations around the bay.

Today’s move was prompted by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, an agency that oversees development on the bay, which ruled the company needed construction permits to complete the project at Treasure Island. Without the papers, it would have to move the craft or face fines.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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