Contrary to an official U.S. Navy statement from ten days ago, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was not headed to waters off North Korea, officials and U.S. Navy photos have revealed.
The U.S. Pacific Command announced on Saturday, April 9, that the carrier strike group was being redirected to sail north from Singapore, instead of heading south towards Australia.
Defense News first reported, and U.S. Navy photos confirmed that the aircraft carrier was thousands of miles away from the Korean Peninsula on April 14.
A photo published on the official U.S. Navy website showed the aircraft carrier operating in waters near Indonesia on April 14. According to a calculation by Stars and Stripes, USS Carl Vinson was located some 3,500 miles from North Korea and would have to travel five days at a full speed of over 30 knots to reach the Korean Peninsula.
The aircraft carrier’s movement is in contrast to several statements made by top U.S. officials. Even the U.S. president Donald Trump said the Carl Vinson was headed to North Korea.
“I don’t want to talk about it. We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you,” Trump said during an interview with the Washington Post.
On April 11, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the carrier was operating “freely up and down the Pacific, and she’s just on her way up there because that’s where we thought it was most prudent to have her at this time. There’s not a specific demand signal or specific reason why we’re sending her up there.”
Several media reports also suggested the U.S. Navy is concentrating a group of three aircraft carriers in the region but that seems unlikely as the forward-deployed USS Ronald Reagan was undergoing a maintenance period in Japan that is not scheduled to be completed before May, while the other deployment-ready carrier, the USS Nimitz, was scheduled to deploy later this spring to relieve the USS Carl Vinson.
South Korean media reported that the USS Carl Vinson is expected to arrive to the Korean Peninsula around April 25.