Last week, The Goldwater reported on a harrowing tale that unfolded on the world's oceans when two women from Hawaii were rescued by the Navy after a five-month drift at sea in their sailboat.
The two women were finally rescued when a fishing boat happened across their sailboat which had lost power several months ago. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, along with their two dogs, drifted hundreds of miles off course over a 5 month period because of the power failure. The pair reached out over their radio but no ship was close enough to pick up their signal until one day they came across a Taiwanese fishing vessel who called in their position to the coast guard. The Navy ship USS Ashland was dispatched after it was determined to be the closest vessel. They and their dogs were both rescued after their sailboat was determined to be unseaworthy by the Navy.
Now it seems the two woman may have been hiding something after an unactivated but still functional emergency beacon was discovered on their ship. Navy Spokesman Lieutenant Scott Carr said a review of the incident along with interviews revealed the passengers had knowledge of the existence of an indicating radio beacon (Epirb) on board the disabled vessel. When asked about why they didn't activate the beacon Jennifer Appel acknowledged it worked and even offered that it was fully registered. So why didn't they use it? Did they have something to hide? Was the whole excursion a ruse to determine Navy or coast guard capability or procedure?
Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle shed more light on the mystery, "We asked why during this course of time did they not activate the Epirb. She had stated they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die." A review of communications from the pair's sailboat found they had made contact with the coast guard in June near Tahiti and the captain stated they were not in distress and planned on making landfall next morning, that was after the women apparently lost power to their engines.
Phillip R Johnson weighed in saying, "If the thing was operational and it was turned on, a signal should have been received very, very quickly that this vessel was in distress." The beacons he says are designed to take punishment and survive any conditions it may encounter at sea. "Failures are very rare," he added.
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