BLUE AND GOLD TO ACQUIRE CROWLEY FERRY, TOUR FLEET

BLUE AND GOLD TO ACQUIRE CROWLEY FERRY, TOUR FLEET

Pier 39's Blue and Gold Fleet, which operates commuter ferry, tour and charter services in San Francisco Bay, will acquire Crowley Marine Services Inc.'s Red & White Fleet, a ferry and tour competitor in the area.

In a joint announcement this week, Blue & Gold and Crowley said the combined organization will retain the Blue and Gold Fleet name and will begin operations Jan. 1 under the direction of Roger Murphy, BGF vice president.The purchase price of the deal was not disclosed by the principles, but it was reportedly about $25 million. The deal is subject to finalizing a purchase agreement and getting federal and state approvals.

Crowley Marine, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp., announced last year that it wanted to sell off its ferry operations as part of a company-wide ''re-engineering" program.

The effort involves spinning off or selling various non-core businesses, such as bunkering operations, a heavy-lift unit and the company's ferry and cruise operations.

The sale of Red & White, the largest cruise and ferry operator in San Francisco Bay, is the first major step in that restructuring.

Blue and Gold was the winning bidder from over 60 interested parties from all over the country, said Dick Simpson, vice president of public relations.

The acquisition involves all Red & White assets, including eight monohull passenger ferries, a high speed ferry, eight dock barges, terminals at Fisherman's Wharf and access and landing rights in the Bay region.

Blue and Gold operates six vessels. Combined passenger totals, once the acquisition is complete, will top 3.5 million annually.

Under the agreement, all of Red & White's 150 employees will be considered for employment by Blue & Gold.

The Crowley ferry boats sailed between Tiburon, Sausalito, Angel Island and

Alcatraz. The rival operation carried about 1 million passengers a year to and

from Vallejo, Alameda and Oakland.