Navy rescues two Hawaiians and their dogs, lost at sea

A Japan-based Navy ship rescued two Hawaiians Wednesday who had been lost at sea for months, according to a Navy release.

The amphibious dock landing ship Ashland picked up the two Honolulu-based mariners, along with their two dogs

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba set off in a sailboat this spring on a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti in the South Pacific.

The vessel suffered an engine casualty on May 30 during bad weather, but the duo continued on, believing they could make it on sail power alone, according to the Navy.

They soon began issuing daily distress calls, but were too far away from other ships or shore stations.

The weary travelers were finally discovered Tuesday, about 900 miles southeast of Japan, by a Taiwanese fishing vessel.

That ship contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam, which prompted the Ashland to steam to their location.

Ashland sailors, who had been operating in the area, brought them aboard and provided medical assessments, food and berthing.

They will remain aboard the ship until the Ashland’s next port visit.

“They saved our lives,” Appel said. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw (the Navy) on the horizon was pure relief.”

Appel said they were able to weather being lost at sea due to water purifiers and more than a year’s worth of food they brought along, mainly dry goods like oatmeal, pasta and rice.

Ashland is based out of Sasebo, Japan, and had been deployed for the past five months as a quick-response asset.