United States sailors rescued after five months adrift in Pacific

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PACIFIC OCEAN Sailors help Zeus one of two dogs who were accompanying two mariners who were aided by the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland. Ashland operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a routine

But the two sailors, accompanied by their dogs, were resourceful and well-prepared with more than a year's worth of food, and on Wednesday they were finally rescued by the US Navy about 900 miles off Japan and thousands of miles from their destination.

"You can't get any help at all because you're in the middle of nowhere, and if it falls apart around you, you're swimming, and you're shark bait", said Fuiava.

Lost and off course, they said they began issuing daily distress calls two months into their journey.

Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, Appel said they would not be human if they did not. One of their cellphones washed overboard and sank into the deep blue water on their first day at sea. The next night, another came and slammed itself against the ship's hull.

Two women mariners and their dogs were rescued at sea by the USS Ashland following an outing this past Spring.

Jennifer Appel, an experienced sailor, and Natasha "Tasha" Fuiva, a sailing novice, left Honolulu on their sailboat on May 3, bound for Tahiti, 2,600 miles away in the South Pacific. "We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught".

"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night", Appel said.

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"Thank God we've been rescued", Jennifer Appel, 48, told reporters in a teleconference arranged aboard a Navy ship.

After almost five months lost at sea, they were finally spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel. The fishing vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam who then coordinated with Taipei Rescue Coordination Center, the Japan Coordination Center, and the Joint Coordination Center in Honolulu to render assistance.

The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland, based in Sasebo, Nagasaki, responded and brought the women and their dogs on board by 1:18 p.m.

"The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation", said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, the Ashland's leader, in a news discharge.

They were taken onboard the USS Ashland, where they received medical check-ups.

The Ashland caught up with the sailboat Thursday. They had tried to make distress calls but they were too far out to sea and the signals were not picked up on land.

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