A US aircraft carrier-led flotilla that the White House said last week was “steaming” towards North Korea to increase pressure on Pyongyang was actually thousands of miles away heading in the opposite direction.
The USS Carl Vinson and three other ships were on Tuesday heading towards North Korea but only after a string of misleading statements about its original course put out last week from the Trump administration...
In Washington, officials are facing questions and criticism over the location and original course of the Vinson flotilla, after it was photographed 3,500 miles away from North Korea, sailing south in the Sunda Strait at a time officials said it was sailing north.
On 11 April, the defence secretary, Jim Mattis, said the Vinson was “on her way up” to the peninsula. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “when you a see a carrier group steaming into an area like that [it] is clearly a huge deterrence”.
The following day, Donald Trump said: “We are sending an armada. Very powerful.”
Late on Tuesday, the Pentagonsaid the aircraft carrier was finally heading north, after it had sailed south to take part in a preplanned training exercise with the Australian navy. Spokeswoman Dana White told the New York Times: “The ship is now moving north the western Pacific. This should have been communicated more clearly at the time.”
The Carl Vinson and its strike force will not reach the seas off the Korean peninsula until next month.