WASHINGTON (AP) _ Adm. J. William Kime became the 19th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday, relieving Adm. Paul A. Yost, who had been the guard's top-ranking officer since 1986.

Kime was nominated for the post while serving as commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Long Beach, Calif. He will oversee a 42,000-person organization responsible for navigation safety on the nation's waterways.

The Coast Guard also is involved in search and rescue operations, protection of the marine environment, drug interdiction and enforcement of other maritime laws.

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Kime served as commander of the Central California Sector of the U.S. Maritime Defense Zone, Pacific, and as coordinator of the Pacific Region of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Yost is retiring after 39 years with the Coast Guard.

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