White House denies misleading public about U.S. aircraft carrier whereabouts
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait, April 15, 2017.[Photo: AP]
The White House on Wednesday denied that it misled the public about the whereabouts of a U.S. aircraft carrier heading toward the Korean Peninsula.
"The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer at a briefing.
In a statement released on April 9, the U.S. Navy announced that the USS Carl Vinson strike group was directed to skip a previously planned port visit to Australia and to sail north from Singapore.
Speaking at Fox Business Network days after the Pentagon announcement, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States was "sending an armada," referring to the USS Carl Vinson strike group.
The Navy announcement came amid increased tension on the Korean Peninsula as U.S. media reports speculated about a preemptive U.S. strike on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Though the announcement did not explicitly say that the Carl Vinson would immediately steam north toward the Korean Peninsula, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis did tell reporters that the Carl Vinson was "on her way up there."
"She (Carl Vinson) operates freely up and down the Pacific, and she's just on her way up there because that's where we thought it was most prudent to have her at this time," said Mattis on April 11.
However, on Saturday, when the DPRK showcased its military muscles during celebrations marking the 105th birth anniversary of DPRK founder Kim Il Sung, the Carl Vinson was sailing in the opposite direction, participating in a joint exercise with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean.
According to a photograph released by the U.S. Navy, the Carl Vinson was transiting the Sunda Strait on Saturday.