WH Addresses Confusion over USS Carl Vinson's Location

Andrew Cummings
April 21, 2017

When U.S. President Donald Trump boasted early last week that he had sent an "armada" as a warning to North Korea, the aircraft carrier strike group he spoke of was still far from the Korean peninsula, and headed in the opposite direction.

The US Navy says an aircraft carrier intended as a show of force to North Korea will arrive in the Sea of Japan next week, after much confusion surrounding the path of the USS Carl Vinson. North Korea was about to test a missile, and the Trump administration was ratcheting up US rhetoric about a potential standoff.

It turns out the carrier group was never actually steaming towards the peninsula, but rather heading to joint exercises with the Australian navy.

"China is very concerned about this new development", said Lu and urged all parties to work jointly and take concrete measures to de-escalate the tension.

But even Mattis initially misspoke about the strike group's itinerary, telling a news conference that the Vinson had pulled out of an exercise with Australia.

Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North program of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the matter was "very perplexing" and fed into North Korea's narrative that the US is all bluster and does not follow through on threats.

At the time, comments from administration officials and spokesmen seemed to contradict each other over the exact reason the strike group was sent towards the Korean Peninsula.

He underlined the situation in the Korean peninsula is highly sensitive, and therefore all involved countries should avoid aggravating the situation.

"The Ministry is in the process of checking facts with both the United States and China through various diplomatic channels", the ministry's spokesperson Cho June-hyuck said.

The Vinson battle group is not expected to reach the Korean peninsula until next week. "The Vinson sails up and down the Pacific routinely, and so I would not read anything into the Carl Vinson's current locations".

The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing defense officials, that communication misfires fanned the incorrect statements that the warships were heading toward North Korea.

The U.S. ships have the ability to shoot down incoming missiles and launch cruise missiles of their own.

It came to light after the US Navy posted a photo online of the aircraft carrier sailing through the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java in Indonesia.

15 April: North Korea puts on a huge military parade - complete with missiles - to mark 105th birthday of the nation's founding president, Kim Il-sung.

"The government told us, 'If the U.S. dares to choose a military option. the DPRK is willing and ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,'" CNN reporter Will Ripley said April 12.

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