US sailors rescued after five months adrift in Pacific

Tasha Fuiaba, a US mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat, climbing on board the USS Ashland in the Pacific Ocean, 25 October 2017Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The women – and their dogs – survived thanks to a water purifier and a store of dry food

Two US yachtswomen and their two dogs have been rescued by the US Navy after spending nearly five months adrift in the Pacific Ocean, officials say.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba had set off in a small sailing boat from Hawaii on a trip to Tahiti when their engine, damaged by the bad weather, failed.

Their boat then drifted in the open seas about 1,500km (930 miles) southeast of Japan.

They were rescued after a fishing vessel alerted US authorities.

The pair, who set off in May, originally thought that they could reach land by relying on wind and sails, the US Navy’s Seventh fleet said in a statement.

“Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue distress calls,” the statement added.

The US Navy said the two women continued with the calls daily, but that their signals were not picked up because they “were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations”.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The women had set off from Hawaii with their dogs in May
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jennifer Appel is welcomed on board the USS Ashland by Command Master Chief Gary Wise

But on 24 October, a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted the boat bobbing in the ocean and contacted authorities on the US territory of Guam.

The USS Ashland, which was in the area, arrived early the following day to rescue the sailors – both from Honolulu – and their dogs.

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“They saved our lives,” Ms Appel said, adding: “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”

The four-member crew managed to survive the lengthy ordeal thanks to a water purifier and a large store of dry goods such as oatmeal and pasta.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The USS Ashland arrived to assist the sailors a day after they were spotted by a fishing vessel

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