Sailor Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba, both from Honolulu, and their two dogs set sail from Hawaii to Tahiti this spring but shortly after they began their journey, bad weather caused them to veer off course.
Appel and Fuiaba had an engine problem May 30 during bad weather. They continued on hoping to make it to land.
One of their dogs, identified as Zeus, looks pretty happy in the coast guard photo to be walking on terra firma. The other pooch, Valentine, was ship shape, too.
Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began issuing distress calls. The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations to receive them.
On Oct. 24, they were discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan by a Taiwanese fishing vessel. The fishing vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam who then coordinated with Taipei Rescue Coordination Center, the Japan Coordination Center, and the Joint Coordination Center in Honolulu to render assistance.
MT @Amphib7FLT: #USSAshland rescues mariners who had drifted off course, stranded in Pacific Ocean for months – https://t.co/u4ntPRLtHL pic.twitter.com/oI9ccpF1Na
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) October 26, 2017
The Sasebo-based amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) rendered assistance to the two stranded sailors and their dogs.
“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.
Appel said they survived the situation by bringing water purifiers and over a year’s worth of food on board, primarily in the form of dry goods such as oatmeal, pasta and rice.
Once on Ashland, the mariners were provided with medical assessments, food and berthing arrangements. The mariners will remain on board until Ashland’s next port of call.
Part of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward deployed naval forces out of Sasebo, Japan, Ashland has been on a routine deployment for the past five months as a ready-response asset for any of contingency.
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