LIMA, Peru (NNS) -- After two weeks of multinational exercises and events at-sea and in port, UNITAS 2017 concluded with a debrief and closing ceremony held on the oceanfront July 26, in Lima, Peru.
During the 58th iteration of the longest running multinational naval exercise, host nation Peru welcomed personnel from 19 participating nations to conduct exercises designed to develop and enhance strong and lasting relationships between participants.
"This being my fifth time attending UNITAS, I feel that we've interacted better, our communication and partnerships are stronger and we are showing that the area here is important and our relationships are important," said Capt. Errin Armstrong, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40.
Participating nations utilized 30 vessels, 28 aircraft as well as several submarines and amphibious vehicles to complete six live-fire exercises and 37 combined maritime events during UNITAS 2017. Sailors and marines also participated in a community relations project assisting schools and a hospital a northern Peruvian area affected heavily by recent flooding.
"I want to thank and congratulate all who have participated in UNITAS 2017 for the work you have done," said Peruvian Rear Adm. Alberto Alcala, commander, Surface Force Peru. "To the young men and women involved in thank you for your professionalism and leadership, I hope this is an opportunity you will never forget."
During the closing ceremony, Rear Adm. Linda R. Wackerman addressed the audience and handed out awards to representatives from each of the 19 participating nations.
"Today we celebrate the completion of UNITAS 2017," said Wackerman. "I am incredibly honored to be here today and proud of the exceptional work of the participants, not a single detail was overlooked."
Wackerman continued her remarks by commending the sophistication of the exercise and its participants in a world that is increasingly interconnected. She stressed the importance of continuing to develop relationships with partner nations.
"UNITAS provides the ability to foster partnerships with other nations that will have positive repercussions for years to come," said Wackerman. "Bravo zulu to all, shipmates."
The closing ceremony ended with Rear Adm. Alena presenting Colombian navy Capt. William Suescun with a flag designating the South American country, Peru's neighbors to the north, as hosts of UNITAS 2018.
For more updates and coverage of UNITAS 2017 follow http://www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT/ or http://twitter.com/navsous4thflt?lang=en.
For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.