Two Honolulu sailors and their dogs have finally been rescued after being stranded in the Pacific for five months.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba, civilian sailors from Honoulu, had set sail from their native Hawaii in spring bound for Tahiti.
But the sailors got knocked off course by a storm on May 30, which also took out their engine, and were eventually picked up in the western Pacific, 900 miles southeast of Japan.
This US Navy photo shows Tasha Fuiaba, an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat, climbing aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland on Tuesday
Zues, one of the sailor’s dogs, is brought aboard the USS Ashland by Navymen, after they were called to rescue a stranded sailboat
‘I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief,’ said Appel.
The pair and their pets were able to survive so long thanks to the boat’s water purifiers and the year’s worth of food supplies they had aboard, such as mass supplies of oatmeal, pasta and rice.
Appel and Fuiaba said that after the storm knocked out their engine, they had kept sailing towards Tahiti using just wind power.
The sailors got knocked off course by a storm on May 30, which also took out their engine, and were eventually picked up in the western Pacific, 900 miles southeast of Japan
Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel who was rescued from the Pacific after five months
But after two months at sea, they realized they were seriously off course and began issuing daily distress radio calls.
Unfortunately, the women and their dogs were in such a remote corner of the world, that no other ships were close enough to pick up their messages.
On Tuesday, after almost five months at sea, a Japanese-Taiwanese fishing vessel picked up their call in the Pacific Ocean around 5,000 miles away from their original destination.
The fishing boat contacted the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam and within hours, the USS Ashland arrived and rescued two mariners and their animals.
Appel and Fuiaba, who underwent medical assessments, and their dogs were given food and rooms to stay in aboard the USS Ashland where they will also stay until it makes its next port of call
Appel and Fuiaba, who underwent medical assessments, and their dogs were given food and rooms to stay in aboard the USS Ashland.
But they are not quite home yet. The civilians will have to stay on the US Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship until it’s next port of call.
‘The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,’ said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, Ashland’s commanding officer.