After a potent mix of bad communication and general confusion concerning the whereabouts of the US Navy’s USS Carl Vinson, the commander of the group said via Facebook that the carrier will indeed extend its deployment to “provide a persistent presence” off the Korean Peninsula.
Last time the Pentagon said that, it was later discovered that the Vinson was near Indonesia, 3,500 miles away from its announced destination. Defense officials now tell US Naval Institute (USNI) News that the strike group may arrive in East Asia “sometime next week,” the outlet reported.
“We are sending an armada” to the Korean Peninsula, US President Donald Trump had said in an April 11 interview with Fox News Business. Trump did not detail the assets involved in this “armada,” aside from US Navy submarines – presumably nuclear-armed Ohio-class subs – which he claimed are “far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed Trump the same day, saying that the Vinson was “on her way up there” to the Korean Peninsula, but four days later the aircraft carrier was photographed at the Sunda Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia.
While Trump talked up his saber-rattling tactics of sending the Vinson toward the Korean Peninsula to stare down Pyongyang, the carrier and its accompanying battleships were actually training with the Royal Australian Navy “off the northwest coast of Australia,” US Pacific Command spokesman David Benham later told USNI.
The commander of Carrier Strike Group One, Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, said late Tuesday night that he had been authorized to provide information to sailors’ families and loved ones pertaining to the Vinson’s mission and whereabouts.
The deployment of the strike group has been extended another 30 days for a number of purposes; namely, to provide “flexible deterrent options, all domain access, and a visible forward presence,” Kilby wrote.
Last Tuesday, White House spokesman claimed the Vinson would serve as a “huge” deterrence in the Korean Peninsula. On Wednesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer struggled to patch together an explanation of the miscommunication error between the White House and the US Navy. A reporter pointed out that the aircraft carrier is currently en route to the Korean Peninsula, to which Spicer responded, “that’s not what we said. We said it was heading there. It was heading there. It is heading there.”
The White House press corps did not follow up with further inquiries about miscommunications between the Pentagon and the White House.