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Coast Guard confirms Google link to mystery barge

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 10:31 AM ET
Mystery barge linked to Google
Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 10:23 AM ET
A mystery barge under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco is raising a number of questions among the locals. CNBC's Josh Lipton looks for clues to what the search giant is up to.

Some new clues are emerging around a mysterious barge floating in San Francisco Bay off Treasure Island.

Several reports speculate the barge is home to a floating data center that may be owned by Google. Google sources have said repeatedly they have no comment about the story, but now there is independent confirmation.

"We can confirm that Google is involved or associated with the barge but there is a nondisclosure agreement in effect; the Coast Guard is unable to discuss or divulge any further details at this time," said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas McKenzie, a Coast Guard spokesman.

As CNET first reported, Google does have a patent for a water-based data center that can be cooled by the flow of sea water.

CNBC spoke with several data center experts who said the idea could work.

(Read more: Google tied to mysterious barge in SF bay)

That's because it is mobile and could be deployed off any coast around the world. The experts spoke on condition of anonymity.

The suspected Google barge docked in San Francisco Bay.
CNBC
The suspected Google barge docked in San Francisco Bay.

And while most of the attention has been on the hulking structure floating in San Francisco Bay, the plot of the mystery is thickening.

Another barge that looks eerily similar, and is reported to be registered to the same holding company as the one in San Francisco, appeared off Portland, Maine, just last week. There is no independent confirmation the two barges are related.

As we've learned new developments about the story, we have repeatedly reached out to Google. The company continues to provide "no comment on the story."

(Read more: What social apps are doing with your intimate data)

While Google is known for its secretiveness, the tide of information about these mystery barges/floating data centers is rising.

By Mark Berniker and Josh Lipton of CNBC's SiliconValley/SF Bureau. Follow Berniker on Twitter @markberniker and Lipton @CNBCJosh.

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  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

  • Cadie Thompson is a tech reporter for the Enterprise Team for CNBC.com.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.

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  • Lipton is CNBC's technology correspondent, working from CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau.

  • Mark is CNBC's Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bureau Chief covering technology and digital media.