By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

The ceremonial ringing of a bell marked the end of the Crescent City Coast Guard Auxiliary's annual Change of Watch ritual and symbolized the beginning of new leadership for the flotilla.

At Saturday evening's event at the Crescent City Fire Protection District, Jill Munger and Charles Kresa were sworn in as the new commanders for Flotilla 11N-08-11, the local United States Coast Guard Auxiliary unit. Munger takes over as the Flotilla Commander and Kresa as Vice Flotilla Commander.

Each year, the auxiliary unit elects new commanders, who can serve a maximum of two one-year terms. This year will be both Munger and Kresa's first term.

The Auxiliary is a volunteer branch of the United States Coast Guard. It was started in 1939 to assist the USCG achieve its mission. Auxiliary divisions teach boating safety, inspect public vessels and do search and rescue missions.

The Crescent City Auxiliary, which is celebrating its five-year anniversary this year, operates its own 25-foot safe-boat. In 2006 it saved over $1.65 million in public property through rescue and assisted over 70 people.

USCG Master Chief Michael Leavitt came to the ceremony from his Group Humboldt Bay division in McKinleyville to express his appreciation for the Crescent City Auxiliary.

andquot;After four years of coming out here?I have a whole different perspective on the auxiliary program,andquot; he said.

Leavitt said he never expected anyone in the Auxiliary to drive a boat like enlisted Coast Guard members.

andquot;Well, this Coast Guard Auxiliary can, and they are, and they're doing it,andquot; he said.