Last spring, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba left Honolulu in a boat with their dogs, intending to sail to Tahiti.
During stormy weather on May 30, the boat’s motor gave out. The women thought they could make it back to land by sail, but that attempt proved to be unsuccessful. So, ever since then, the foursome has been drifting at sea. Every day, the women would send out a distress call, but there were no ships or shore stations around to hear their S.O.S.
Fortunately, Appel and Fuiaba had brought along plenty of water purifiers and a year’s supply of food, including dry goods like oatmeal, pasta and rice.
Their ordeal finally came to an end Tuesday, when a Taiwanese fishing boat crew spotted their boat and notified the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam. The women were thousands of miles from Tahiti, but only about 900 miles from Japan.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Navy sent out the USS Ashland, an amphibious docking landing ship, to rescue the women and dogs. Their boat was deemed unseaworthy, and its occupants were brought aboard the ship. The Navy provided the four with medical assessments, food and berthing arrangements.
“I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives,” Appel said. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the Navy ship] on the horizon was pure relief.”
Check out the smiles and wagging tails in this video.
The USS Ashland’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Steven Wasson, said the U.S. Navy is “postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.”
As Appel said, thank you, U.S. Navy, for your service!