Last October 25th, the U.S. Navy rescued two sailors, both from Honolulu, after five months adrift at sea.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba had set sail this spring from Hawaii to Tahiti, where they were expected to arrive after a crossing of about 2,300 nautical miles.
On May 30, the boat suffered an engine casualty because of a violent storm but the two women decided to continue on, believing they could make it to land by sail.
After two months of sailing, long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, the two sailors began to issue daily distress calls. Unfortunately – because of their distance from other boats – no one received their calls until October 24, when a Taiwanese fishing vessel finally located them and transmitted their distress call to the Guam-based Coast Guard.
Taipei Rescue Coordination Center cooperated with the Japan Coordination Center and Joint Coordination Center (Honolulu) and finally found in the USS Ashland (LSD 48), a US Navy ship, the closest ship which could rescue the distressed sailors.
Ashland therefore made best speed to the location of the vessel in the early morning of October 25 and arrived on scene at 10:30 a.m, about 900 miles south-east of Japan. After assessing the sailboat unseaworthy, Ashland crew members brought Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiaba and their two dogs aboard the ship. ” I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw on the horizon was pure relief,” said Jennifer Appel.
” The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, Ashland commanding officer.
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.
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. Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiaba and their two dogs will remain on board until Ashland’s next port of call.