A USA aircraft carrier the Navy had armada-finally-heading-to-korea--and-may-stay-a-while/2017/04/19/734ac5e7-ad0c-4395-9cfe-43a9596dca7b_story.html?utm_term=.ba3048e8514f">said was heading toward the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions has not yet started sailing to the region, a US defense official acknowledged Tuesday.
According The New York Times, the White House said it got its information from the U.S. Department of Defense. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from an ill-timed announcement of the deployment by the military's Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary James Mattis - all of which perpetuated the narrative that a flotilla was racing toward the waters off North Korea.
Photos released by the U.S. Navy this week show the USS Carl Vinson in waters off the coast of Indonesia and south of Singapore, where the carrier and its battle group had departed.
Later Tuesday, a representative for Pacific Command told NBC News that the ships cancelled port visits, as had been previously announced, but was also "able to complete a curtailed period of previously scheduled training with Australia in global waters off the northwest coast of Australia".
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded with his own fiery warnings and threatened to conduct weekly missile tests.
"We are sending an armada", President Donald Trump told a TV news interviewer last week about the U.S. response to provocations from North Korea. But - and this is the key - there was a narrative out there that a USA aircraft carrier was headed into a very significant and conspicuous part of the western Pacific Ocean at a very key and tense time.
South Koreans also didn't seem thrilled with President Trump telling the Wall Street Journal that Korea "used to be part of China".
North Korea and the United States have ratcheted up tensions in recent weeks and the movement of the strike group had raised the question of a pre-emptive strike by the US.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump's point was he's ready to defend allies.
The US Navy "armada" said to be heading towards the Korean peninsula to deter nuclear testing was actually carrying out exercises in the Indian Ocean thousands of kilometres away.
Singapore-based security expert Ian Storey said countries in the region would have found the confusion over the strike group's location "unsettling and perplexing". Separately, a defense official suggested to the Washington Post that the problem may have started with a statement from U.S. Pacific Command that "could have been worded a little more clearly".
The strike group was now "proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered".