The retailer contracted with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding to build an articulated tug barge (ATB), a cargo vessel that has a tugboat linked with a barge, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The ATB is a Jones Act-compliant vessel, complying with a federal statute that requires an American ship to transport goods between U.S. ports. The ATB format is said to offer a cost-efficient and nimble means to transport fuel.
At an official christening ceremony at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding headquarters in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Wawa named the barge 1964—the year the first Wawa store opened—and the tugboat Millville, from Millville Manufacturing Co., the company’s name on its original 1865 charter.
Brian Schaller, senior vice president for Wawa, said the chain chose Fincantieri for its reputation and experience.
"This shipyard’s distinguished history of building articulated tug and barges, the investment the shipyard has made in its facilities over the past decade and the quality of the entire staff at the yard were meaningful factors in our decision to work with Bay Shipbuilding on this project," Schaller said.
Wawa, which has about 2% share of U.S. fuel sales, will use the ATB to supply its Florida sites, which should total 140 by the end of the year, Schaller said. It will also help it continue its fuel pricing competitiveness in Florida, a savviness that helped it finish near the top of CSP’sFuels 50 list of the most effective fuel brands.
As reported by Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) in January, Wawa ordered the ATB with a storage capacity of around 185,000 barrels in 2016 for an estimated purchase price of $80 million. The vessel provides Wawa with an edge in the highly competitive Florida market, which is not supplied by pipeline or rail shipments, by allowing the retailer to ship in its own fuel rather than buy at the rack.
There for the christening with a bottle of Champagne was Grahame Wood, grandson of founder George Wood. "On behalf of the 30,000 employees of Wawa to the Bay Shipbuilding employees, thank you for these two beautiful vessels," he said.
Based in Wawa, Pa., Wawa has more than 750 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.