Navy rescues women and dogs lost at sea for months aboard sailboat

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A sailor greets Zeus the dog with his owner Tasha Fuiaba, left, on the deck of the amphibious landing craft USS Ashland, October 25, 2017 (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

A sailor greets Zeus the dog with his owner Tasha Fuiaba, left, on the deck of the amphibious landing craft USS Ashland, October 25, 2017.

A sailor greets Zeus the dog with his owner Tasha Fuiaba, left, on the deck of the amphibious landing craft USS Ashland, October 25, 2017 (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

Tasha Fuiaba, a U.S. sailor who has been on a damaged sailboat for five months, climbs the accommodation ladder to board the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland on October 25, 2017.

Tasha Fuiaba, an American sailor who had been on a damaged sailboat for five months, climbs the accommodation ladder to board the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland, October 25, 2017 (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

USS Ashland (LSD 48) Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel, an American sailor who had received assistance from Ashland crew members.

USS Ashland (LSD 48) Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel, an American sailor who had received assistance from Ashland crew members. (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

Sailors assist Zeus, one of two dogs accompanying two Sailors assisted by the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland, October 25, 2017.

Sailors assist Zeus, one of two dogs accompanying two sailors assisted by the amphibious landing ship USS Ashland, October 25, 2017 (Jonathan Clay / US Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – The Navy rescued two women lost in the Pacific for months after their small boat’s engine failed and they lost their course on a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti .

The amphibious ship USS Ashland, based in Sasebo, Japan, rescued Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, both of Honolulu, along with their dogs Zeus and Valentine after their adrift sailboat was spotted about 900 miles above sea level on Wednesday. south-eastern Japan.

“Thank goodness we have been saved,” was Appel’s first thought when she saw US sailors approach her stricken craft in a small boat launched from the Ashland on Thursday morning.

“They saved our lives,” she said, according to a Navy statement on the rescue. “The pride and the smiles we had when we saw [the Navy] on the horizon, it was a relief.

After declaring the sailboat unfit for navigation, the sailors brought the women back to the warship.

Appel told reporters in a phone call from the Ashland shortly after her rescue that she and her companion had little hope after making daily unanswered distress calls. Bad weather had driven the couple, who had left Hawaii on May 3, far from their original route after their engine failed on May 30.

The women tried to sail ashore and survived on purified water and dried food before their boat was finally spotted by Taiwanese fishermen.

Guam authorities, alerted by fishermen, forwarded the position of the sailboat to the Ashland, which left Yokosuka last week for a routine deployment.

“We set the best speed available to search that area and… found the Taiwanese vessel and sailboat together,” said Cmdr. Ashland’s Steven Wasson told reporters by phone.

The group will remain aboard the warship until its next stopover, Navy officials said, although they declined to say when and where it would occur.

In the telephone interview, Appel described the experience as a lesson in humility.

“It was incredibly moving and satisfying to know that the men and women who serve our country would come and help us,” she said.

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com


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