Two US sailors and their dogs rescued after five months at sea

They survived on board their boat using water purifiers and a year's worth of food

Two US sailors and their dogs rescued after five months at sea

Tasha Fuiaba, an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

The US Navy says it has rescued two sailors and their two dogs who had spent five months at sea.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba, both from Honolulu in Hawaii, had left their home state in spring to sail to Tahiti, with dogs Zeus and Valentine also on board.

However, on May 30th the ship's engine was flooded during a storm, meaning the mariners could no longer use it.

They decided to continue on their journey, using the ship's sail as part of their bid to reach land.

The two sailors only started issuing distress calls two months later and 'long past' their original estimate for arrival in Tahiti.

Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were accompanying two mariners. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

They managed to survive on board using water purifiers and a year's worth of food  - mostly in the form of dried supplies such as oatmeal, pasta and rice.

While they issued daily distress calls, they were not able to contact another vessel or shore station.

They were finally discovered on Tuesday of this week by a Taiwanese fishing vessel 900 miles southeast of the Japanese coast.

Following a joint operation by Japanese, Taiwanese and US teams, a US Navy ship reached the sailors on Wednesday morning - and rescued them after their boat was deemed 'unseaworthy'.

Speaking about their rescue, Jennifer Appel explained: "I'm grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief."

Talking about the experience of not being able to communicate with anyone else, she added: "It was very depressing and it was very hopeless but it's the only thing you can do, so you do what you can with what you have." 

The pair and their dogs will remain on board the USS Ashland until it reaches its next port.