Vinson carrier group expected off Korea in late April

Trevor Jackson
April 19, 2017

While the White House claimed that the USS Carl Vinson was sailing for the Korean Peninsula last week, the naval armada was actually full steam ahead to the Indian Ocean - where it planned to meet the Australian Navy for joint exercises, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The Navy was criticized for taking a week to correct the report.

Submarines also regularly provide undersea cover for carrier strike groups.

The Vinson's return to Korea was ordered on April 8 by Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. The Navy and Pacific Command haven't dissuaded any of those reports, but never explicitly confirmed Korea as its destination or discussed a timeline.

Those same officials did not push back on reports that the Vinson would return to Korean waters, where the strike group operated for much of March as part of the annual U.S.

Soon afterward, PACOM spokesman Cmdr.

Thornberry did not endorse any preemptive military action against North Korean forces, but did say he thinks it's important that "you don't take options off the table".

Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North program of the U.S. -Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the matter was "very perplexing" and fed into North Korea's narrative that America is all bluster and doesn't follow through on threats. Shortly after the Pentagon announced the aircraft carrier's orders, North Korea released a statement condemning the show of force.

Business Insider contacted the Navy about the discrepancy, but it did not immediately comment.

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken with China's foreign policy chief about North Korea.

But he added: "As all of you know, readiness is the key".

"There's not a specific demand signal or specific reason why we're sending her up there", he said.

Officials did, however, flatly deny reports that three US carrier strike groups were being directed to mass off the Korean peninsula in a few weeks.

"We feel the increased presence is necessary", the official told Reuters, citing North Korea's worrisome behavior.

The assault group includes missile destroyers, as well as a missile cruiser.

That could still happen, but the potential flashpoint that many expected over the weekend has passed: North Korea attempted to fire a ballistic missile early Sunday, but it exploded very soon after launch.

In an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent military actions "erratic" and said adding USA military forces in the region could both act as a deterrent to North Korea and a diplomatic push to China to intervene.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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