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

USS Carl Vinson Not In North Korea, So Where Is It?

USS Carl Vinson Not In North Korea, So Where Is It?

THE declaration last week that the U.S. had sent an aircraft carrier barrelling towards waters off the Korean Peninsula put tensions with North Korea at boiling point. "That's a fact. It happened - it is happening, rather".

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump's remarks.

On April 8, the Pacific Command announced the Carl Vinson Strike Group had been directed "to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean".

But the strike group first headed elsewhere.

"PACOM [United States Pacific Command] put out a release talking about what it's ultimate destination was going to be and that's where it ended up", Spicer said.

Military officials said at the time the Vinson was canceling a previous itinerary and instead was going to head toward the Korean Peninsula.

While it is nearly 4,830 km from the Korean peninsula, the arrival of the American aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Eastern Sea would take place around April 25th.

"North Korea is the most unsafe and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific", Mr Pence said.

"There is precedent going back to the 1990s and early 2000s where there are provocations timed to South Korean political events", he said.

Senior administration officials repeatedly cited the orders to rush the Carl Vinson strike force from Singapore to North Korea as a sign of President Donald Trump's willingness to directly confront a regime that has conducted five nuclear tests and multiple missile launches in violation of United Nations resolutions.

Defense News, a trade publication, noted the discrepancy in the US officials' statements and the US Navy post on the ships passing Sunda Strait.

"We are sending an armada", President Donald Trump said on April 12.

Either way, US Vice-President Mike Pence was undeterred as he spoke aboard the USS Ronald Reagan - an aircraft carrier docked in Japan - during his tour of the region, vowing to "defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response".

"I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through nearly every instance, a huge deterrence".

"I actually have to give credit to the White House because you have a China that is more engaged than ever before in North Korea", he said.

The redirection had sparked fears about a preemptive US strike should North Korea conduct a nuclear weapons test.

A Korean English-language newspaper, The Korea Herald, reported the fleet is now expected to arrive on April 25, later than defense officials had previously indicated.

As is customary, the Navy did not say exactly where the carrier force was headed or its precise mission.

"He is doing the wrong thing", he said of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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