USS Ashland Assists Distressed Mariners in Pacific Ocean – Updated

The yacht, SV Sea Nymph, originally abandoned in October 2017, has now been seen drifting 360 miles east of Guam on February 13, 2018, by a boat taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Photo from


Update 17 February 2017

SV Sea Nymph, originally abandoned by Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava 900 miles southeast of Japan, has now been found drifting 360 miles east of Guam on February 13, 2018, by “Turn the Tide on Plastic”, a racing yacht taking part in the Hong Kong to Auckland leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari sent the following blog post on the incident:

“What should you do when you see a yacht floating with no signs of life? Well, that question was asked onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic yesterday.

“We were sailing within sight of Brunel and to weather we saw another yacht close to our track. We looked through the binoculars as there was no sign on the AIS software and we contacted race control. We called on the VHF with no response and race control confirmed there was no active SAR in the area. We sent up the drone with James, our onboard reporter, for a closer inspection and to get some identification for the vessel.

“We collected some images and sent them back to race control and they confirmed the vessel was the abandoned vessel, Sea Nymph. Many may remember a big news story in the US, last autumn, regarding the rescue of two women and a dog from the vessel on their way to Hawaii. Well, this was that vessel all these months later. She was sitting pretty low in the bow and her mainsail was washed over the side but the rest of her looked like she would make a nice cruiser.

“We discussed salvage rights for a while and estimated that the race director would not give us redress if we towed her to Auckland while racing. So there she sits a hazard to shipping, a risk to islands, reefs, and atolls and slowly not going anywhere.

“We are grateful we saw her during the day as this could have been a very different story had we come across her at night. She was floating stern to us with no lights or signal being given out, there is no way we would have seen her. ]

“I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”

Questions have been raised about the story told by the two women (and dogs) rescued in October. They claimed to be adrift for five months unable to reach land. Many of the details of the story: 50-foot sharks, their battling of a force 11 storm, and the size of their boat do not appear to be accurate.

NOAA’s record of storms in the Central North Pacific Region have no indication of winds of over 55mph near Hawaii or in the North Pacific area until July. This puts into question of them having a 3-day storm soon after May 3, 2017, a claim made by Jennifer Appel.

The crew also claimed that they could not raise anyone via VHF radio for three months but there was an unactivated, but working EPIRB on board.

Jennifer Appel says their boat was attacked by tiger sharks as big as 50-feet long. Tiger sharks do not normally grow longer than 18-feet. Such sharks very rarely attack boats.

They said that their boat was 50ft long, but is, in fact, registered as 37ft with the US Coast Guard.

All this raised questions about the accuracy of their story.

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the view of or the World Cruising Club


Original posting

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) — The Sasebo-based amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) rendered assistance to two distressed mariners, Oct. 25, whose sailboat had strayed well off its original course.

As reported by

The Mariners, Jennifer Appel, and Tasha Fuiava, both from Honolulu, and their two dogs had set sail from Hawaii to Tahiti this spring. They had an engine casualty May 30 during bad weather but continued on, believing they could make it to land by sail.

Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue distress calls. The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations to receive them.

On Oct. 24, they were discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan 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.

Operating near the area on a routine deployment, Ashland made the best speed to the location of the vessel in the early morning on Oct. 25 and arrived on scene at 10:30 a.m that morning. After assessing the sailboat unseaworthy, Ashland crew members brought the distressed mariners and their two dogs aboard the ship at 1:18 p.m.

“I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was a pure relief,” said Appel.

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. The Mariners will remain on board until Ashland’s next port of call.

“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.

Mariners Rescued by USS Ashland Speak

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