The Latest: Lost sailors say not enough danger to use beacon
Oct. 31, 2017
HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on two women rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy (all times local):
Two women from Hawaii who say they were adrift in the Pacific for months tell The Associated Press they didn't use their emergency radio beacon because they didn't feel they were in imminent danger.
Jennifer Appel said in an interview Tuesday with fellow sailor Tasha Fuiava that in her experience the beacon should only be used when you are in imminent physical danger and going to die in the next 24 hours.
Asked by the Coast Guard after the ordeal why they didn't use the beacon, she said she told them: "our hull was solid, we were floating, we had food, we had water, and we had limited maneuverable capacity. All those things did not say we are going to die. All that said it's going to take us a whole lot longer to get where we're going."
Appel said though that in retrospect, there were at least two occasions when she should have used the beacon.
The two spoke in Okinawa. They were brought to the southern Japanese island by a U.S. Navy ship that rescued them at sea last week.
AP writer Ken Moritsugu contributed to this report from Naha, Japan.
The U.S. Coast Guard announced Monday that the two Hawaii women who say they were lost at sea never activated their emergency beacon, adding to a growing list of inconsistences that cast doubt on the women's harrowing tale of survival.
U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr told The Associated Press that their review of the incident and subsequent interviews with the survivors revealed that they had the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) aboard but never turned it on. The women said they chose not to activate the device because they never feared for their lives.
Parts of their story have been called into question, including the tropical storm the two say they encountered on their first night at sea in May. National Weather Service records show no organized storms in the region in early May.
When asked if the two had the radio beacon aboard, the women told the AP on Friday they had a number of other communications devices, but they didn't mention the EPIRB.
The device communicates with satellites and sends locations to authorities. It's activated when it's submerged in water or turned on manually.