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Lost Hawaiian Sailors’ Story Doesn’t Add Up, Experts Say

Dibyendu Roy Chowdhury
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Dibyendu Roy Chowdhury
Lost Hawaiian Sailors’ Story Doesn’t Add Up, Experts Say

The heroic story of two Hawaiian women lost at sea for five months has been put under the spotlight by the U.S. Coast Guard who claims the story doesn't quite add up.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr told the Associated Press that after interviewing the survivors and reviewing the incident they have found that the pair had the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) aboard but never activated it.

When asked by AP if they had a radio beacon aboard, the pair replied they had a number of devices but didn’t mention the EPIRB.

An EPIRB is a device that communicates with satellites and sends locations to authorities within minutes of activation. The device can be activated manually or can self-activate when it’s submerged in water.

During the post-incident debriefing, the Coast Guard asked survivor Jennifer Appel if she had the emergency beacon on board. Appel responded positively, saying it was properly registered.

“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,” said another Coast Guard spokeswoman Tara Molle, who was on the call to the AP with Carr.

A retired Coast Guard officer who participated in the search and rescue operations said that if the women used the EPIRB, they would have been found ages ago.

“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,” Phillip R. Johnson told the AP over the phone on Monday.

“Failures are really rare,” Johnson added as EPIRBs are solidly built and can be dropped easily in the ocean. Only old and weak batteries may cause a unit to fail, he explained.

He even questioned their claim that all the six communicating devices went dead. “There’s something wrong there,” Johnson said.

It’s still unclear if the women, who were considered heroines the other day, had tested the EPIRB before their intended journey from Hawaii to Tahiti.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images