It is not clear why the carrier strike group stayed in Southeast Asia, or why the Trump administration did not clarify where it was.
North Korea denounced Thursday's strike as an act of "intolerable aggression" and one that justified "a million times over" the North's push toward a credible nuclear deterrent.
President Trump himself added to the perception the strike group was speeding toward North Korea when he told Fox Business News on April 12, "We are sending an armada, very powerful".
The U.S.is trying to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
News organizations around the world, including NPR, covered the statements by Trump and other officials in Washington about the Carl Vinson's deployment as though the ships were bearing down on North Korea. That's a fact. It happened.
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mattis said: "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".
Meanwhile, according to photos posted on the US Navy website, the Vinson enters the Sunda Strait off the coast of Indonesia - more than 4,000 kilometers from the Korean peninsula. "So, I think it serves multiple capabilities", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said April 11.
North Korea staged a massive military parade on Saturday and observers widely expected the country to conduct a sixth nuclear test to coincide with celebrations marking the birthdate of regime founder Kim Il-Sung.
China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi today held telephonic talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, even as Beijing remained silent over North Korea's "failed" missile test.
But the "armada", headed by the supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, was in fact steaming the other way to take part in military exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean.
It is now confirmed that the aircraft carrier's crew will spend at least an extra month at sea.
"Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean peninsula", Kilby wrote Wednesday on the group's Facebook page.
The perceived communications mix-up discredits some of the tough rhetoric coming from the Trump administration.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week said the conflict over North Korea could break out "at any moment" and warned there would be "no winner" in any war. So although the Navy's details might have been accurate, they never specified where in the South China Sea, or in which direction the ships were sailing.
Pence instead repeated stern warnings to Pyongyang that he made earlier in Seoul and Tokyo, not to test America's resolve.
On Wednesday, Pence said Trump was not intentionally misleading.
North Korea did not refer to the mix-up but said the United States and its allies "should not mess with us".