Two American sailors and their dogs have been rescued by the US Navy after drifting off course and spending months stranded in the Pacific Ocean.

Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiaba and the two dogs had originally set sail from their home state of Hawaii this spring.

They planned a voyage of more than 3,200km south to Tahiti aboard a small sailboat.

Their engine broke on 30 May but they thought they could carry on and make landfall using wind power.

"Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue distress calls," the US Navy's Pacific-based Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

"The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations to receive them."

Then on 24 October, a Taiwanese fishing vessel finally discovered the boat about 900 miles southeast of Japan.

After the fishermen contacted US authorities in the Guam region of the ocean, the amphibious dock landing ship the USS Ashland, which was in the area, arrived the next day to rescue the sailors and their dogs.

Video released by the US Navy shows one of the delighted sailors blowing kisses toward rescuers as they approached in a small motorboat.

Two brown dogs can be seen, wearing life vests, running around the deck and barking.

"They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw (the Navy) on the horizon was pure relief," Ms Appel said of her rescuers.

The dogs - and their masters - appeared healthy and well nourished.

Ms Appel said they survived by bringing water purifiers and more than a year's worth of food, mostly dry goods such as oatmeal, pasta and rice.