The German World War II U-boat base in Marseille is restarted as a data center

The German World War II U-boat base in Marseille is restarted as a data center

The technicians will be working on the construction site of the Interxion MRS3 data center installed in an old German submarine base built during World War II in Marseille, France, on Tuesday. | REUTERS

PARIS - The thick concrete walls of the long-abandoned German submarine base in Marseille, southern France, are set to find a new goal: to keep the banks of computer servers safe and cool.

The Dutch cloud services company Interxion plans to invest 140 million euros to turn the Martha base bunker - which was built in 1943 to accommodate up to 20 U-boats, but which was never completed - into a business data center. The first part of the restoration should be completed by March.

“Restoring historic buildings is not our task, we usually build from scratch. But it was an opportunity and Marseille is an important telecommunications, cloud and digital station between Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, "Fabrice Coquio, director of Interxion France, told reporters.

During the French occupation of France, the bunker was supposed to be the main base for German U-boats in the Mediterranean, but Allied forces bombed the city in May 1944 and took it back in August of that year.

After the war, it was used for storage by the army and customs services, but had been abandoned in recent years.

Coquio said the port city is France's second data center after Paris and the 10th largest in the world, receiving about a dozen submarine and terrestrial data cables, and that Interxion must be as close as possible to those cables.

The data center consumes 25,000 square meters of electricity on 25,000 square meters, the equivalent of a city of 20,000 people, and has its own stock of diesel generators to protect against power outages.

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