USS Carl Vinson deployment extends by month as group sails toward Korea
Warren Dawson | April 20, 2017, 6:26
The strike group, including the 97,000-ton carrier and its 60-plus aircraft, the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, will arrive off the Korean Peninsula by the end of April, multiple USA defense officials told CNN.
The Trump administration and Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, made a point last week of stating that a port visit for the Vinson and its support ships in Australia had been cancelled, and the battle group was heading to the Sea of Japan to guard against North Korea's missile and nuclear tests.
The US military's Pacific Command explained on Tuesday that the Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a previously scheduled training with Australia off its northwest coast.
It was widely assumed that the carrier group was patrolling somewhere within range last weekend, when USA officials feared Kim Jong Un's military would conduct a sixth underground nuclear test, or would try to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. Days later, in response to a question about the warships, Trump told the Fox Business Network that the US was "sending an armada, very powerful" to North Korea. I think we were asked very clearly about the use of a carrier group in terms of deterrence and foreign presence and what that meant. As is customary, the Navy did not say exactly where the carrier force was headed or its precise mission.
The strike group had reached Singapore on April 4 after taking part in joint drills with the South Korean Navy in the East Sea on March 19-25.
Some news organizations cited the armada's apparent race northward as a sign of a possible pre-emptive attack on North Korea, spurring global concerns of a possible war.
An "armada" of USA warships President Donald Trump claimed he had deployed into waters near the Korean Peninsula was actually heading in the opposite direction, it was revealed today.
The US Navy said on 8 April that the Carl Vinson strike group was travelling to the Korean peninsula amid tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
According to images released by the US Navy, it passed north through the Sunda Strait - the passage between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java about 5600km from Korea - on Saturday.
A Trump administration official told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington was concerned about the possibility of some kind of North Korean provocation around the time of the South Korean election on May 9.
North Korea expert Joel Wit at the 38 North monitoring group, run by Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, told Reuters: "If you threaten them and your threat is not credible, it's only going to undermine whatever your policy toward them is". They just lie outright about the location, direction, and intent of entire carrier groups.
Analysts said the U.S. is betting that its tough talk will prompt China to use the weight of its trade ties with North Korea to help avoid a conflict on its border.