Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Tags: North Korea | carl vinson | carrier

THE declaration last week that the United States had sent an aircraft carrier barrelling towards waters off the Korean Peninsula put tensions with North Korea at boiling point.

US Navy officials speaking from Pearl Harbor and Washington told Defense News, "off the record", that they were awestruck when they saw reports that the Vinson was sailing toward the Korean Peninsula, telling the news outlet, "we've made no such statement".

Stars and Stripes reported Monday that the Carl Vinson strike group was actually making its way toward Australia last week for a planned port visit.

On April 8th, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, ordered the Vinson's strike group, which consists of the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the guided missile destroyers USS Michael P. Murphy and USS Wayne E. Meyer, to cancel scheduled port visits in Australia and instead operate in the "western Pacific " which includes Korea.

By the time the White House was asked about the Carl Vinson on April 11, its imminent arrival had been emblazoned on front pages across East Asia, fanning fears that Trump was considering a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea.

President Donald Trump the next day said: "We are sending an armada".

The narrative last week was that the USA and its allies in the Western Pacific were gearing up for a showdown with strongman Kim Jong Un ahead of the anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

Other nations were said to be joining in. News reports said Japan was planning to deploy its own destroyers to form up with the Carl Vinson and its us escorts, the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain. Please check your email for a welcome confirmation.

The US Navy announced on April 8 that the armada was travelling north as a "prudent measure" to deter North Korean military aggression.

The Navy posted photos online showing the ships sailing near Indonesia over the weekend, which put the flotilla roughly 3,500 miles away from North Korea.

"They are going to start heading north towards the Sea of Japan within the next 24 hours", the official said on condition of anonymity. Mattis did say that, as a practice, the Navy does not disclose the whereabouts of its ships.

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