That 'Armada' Heading To North Korea? Actually, It Sailed South

Paterniano Del Favero
Aprile 20, 2017

South Korean media outlets were pretty cynical about the whole thing, saying that the Chinese and Russian presidents probably had a good laugh over Trump's "lie over the Carl Vinson", expressing concern that the United States is increasing tensions, but bluffing about sending forces into the area.

Over the next week, President Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, White House spokesman Sean Spicer and other officials all spoke of the carrier's positioning as a dramatic show of force against Pyongyang.

White House officials told the Times that the military's Pacific Command made the announcement prematurely, and the mistake was repeated later by defence secretary Jim Mattis.

The mixup was revealed on Monday when the Navy posted a photo of the Carl Vinson sailing through the Sunda Strait separating the islands of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia.

The Carl Vinson Strike group is now headed for the Korean Peninsula and will reach the area by the end of the month, the Defense Department told the Times. The U.S. media went into overdrive and Fox reported on April 14 that the armada was "steaming" toward North Korea.

A North Korean missile exploded seconds after launch Sunday, according to US officials. 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".

Actually, a fleet of USA warships - an aircraft carrier accompanied by two destroyers and a cruiser - had been deployed, but in the opposite direction from the Korean peninsula.

Spicer said the USS Carl Vinson's "ultimate destination" was the Korean Peninsula and that "that's where it ended up". In fairness, neither Trump nor the Navy said when the Carl Vinson was going to head north, so technically no one lied here. Pacific Command announced April 8 that it was cancelling the ships' planned visit to Australia and instead ordering them to "sail north and report on station to the Western Pacific Ocean".

This explanation will undoubtedly satisfy the many people who have given Spicer and the Trump White House the benefit of the doubt over significantly more clear-cut falsehoods and messaging failures.

Trump has stated that all options, including military action, are possible as North Korea continues to develop its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program. "The bottom line is in our effort to always be open about what we were doing we said that we that we were going to change the Vinson's upcoming schedule".

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