A PACOM statement declared that the Carl Vinson strike group would cancel its planned port visits in Australia after leaving Singapore on April 8th and head north to the Western Pacific Ocean. Soon after, President Trump announced in an interview with Fox Business News that he was sending “an armada, very powerful” to the Korean Peninsula. Officials stated that this was to increase U.S. military presence to deter North Korea’s continued weapons testing.
“The Carl Vinson Strike Group cancelled a previously planned port visit to Australia and is continuing on track for all assigned missions in the Western Pacific,” a statement said.
Thus far, reports on Vinson’s impending arrival in waters near South Korea have come from White House and other Washington officials. The Navy and Pacific Command haven’t dissuaded any of those reports, but never explicitly confirmed Korea as its destination or discussed a timeline.
PACOM directed the Vinson strike group “to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean after departing Singapore on April 8 … rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia,” according to its initial statement on the move.
“Third Fleet ships operate forward with a purpose: to safeguard U.S. interests in the Western Pacific,” PACOM spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham said. “The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
In response, tensions in the region were heightened. As the President and Vice President reinforced the movement with strong rhetoric, China and Russia sent spy vessels to monitor the armada.
China and Russia have dispatched spy vessels to shadow Donald Trump’s ‘armada’ as it steams to North Korean waters, amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
Beijing sought Russian help in averting a crisis over North Korea last week, as concerns grow in China that Donald Trump is seeking to confront North Korea over its weapon’s program.
However, the armada was sent to Australia to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, nearly 3,500 miles away. This is proven by a photograph released by the U.S. Navy on Monday.
The saga of the wayward carrier might never have come to light, had the Navy not posted a photograph on Monday of the Carl Vinson sailing through the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. The picture was taken on Saturday, four days after the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, described its mission in the Sea of Japan.
It is clear that the armada was not near the Korean Peninsula at the time of this weekend’s weapons test. What remains unclear is whether this was an intentional bluff or an unintentional miscommunication.