Mysterious San Francisco barge likely Google facility

A mysterious barge floating on the San Francisco bay has people wondering who owns it and what it's doing there.

The barge, which is just off of Treasure Island, is stacked four-stories high with shipping containers. Reports suggest that the Google is behind the mysterious boat.

Citing a source close to the project, KPIX reports that Google is building a floating marketing center, like a giant Apple store, but for Google Glass.

The search giant is hoping to tow the barge from Treasure Island across the bay to San Francisco's Fort Mason, where it will be open to the public, the source says. However, it may not have the necessary permits to dock the barge -- yet.

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

There is also speculation that Google is building a floating data center on the bay. According to CNET, Google has a patent for a water-based data center, which was filed in 2007.

An independent marine engineer, who spoke with CNET on conditions of anonymity, says that Google wanted to build a backup data center, in case a natural disaster struck.

"They'd have all their data from the region backed up at this center," the engineer told CNET. "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."

The engineer added that Google planned to build more than a dozen data centers, placing them worldwide, in places like Asia, Europe and South America. 

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.