As Trump warned North Korea, his 'armada' was headed toward Australia

However, yesterday the US Pacific Command said that while it had cancelled a planned port visit to Perth, the USS Carl Vinson and accompanying warships had in fact headed to north-west Australia to take part in planned exercises.

The perceived communications mix-up has raised eyebrows among Korea experts, who wonder whether it erodes the Trump administration's credibility at a time when United States rhetoric about the North's advancing nuclear and missile capabilities are raising concerns about a potential conflict.

Speaking in Japan, US Vice President Mike Pence said the US will counter any North Korean attack with an "overwhelming and effective" response.

The Carl Vinson, accompanied by a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a cruiser, was supposed to have been ordered to sail north after leaving Singapore on April 8.

Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North programme of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said to AP: "If you are going to threaten the North Koreans, you better make sure your threat is credible".

On Wednesday, the US Navy posted photos to its website of the USS Carl Vinson in a location in the South China Sea, on what it describes as a "regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment".

Another candidate Hong Joon-pyo was more blunt, telling The Wall Street Journal that "If that was a lie, then during Trump's term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says".

Citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, The New York Times reported that those officials were perplexed why the Pentagon did not correct the media reports of the Carl Vinson's sailing timeline, given the increased tension on the Korean Peninsula, especially after the Trump administration's decision to go after the Syrian government early this month.

The North also tried but failed to launch what USA officials said was a medium-range missile on Sunday.


Xi's call came as Beijing prepares to counter the USA deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) interceptor missiles in South Korea.

The Vinson is now expected to arrive at the Korean Peninsula on April 25, the same day as the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the North Korean army, according to the Korea Herald. Pence arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday from South Korea.

"We're sending an armada", Trump told Fox News that afternoon.

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.

"The ship is now moving north to the Western Pacific", the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, Dana White, said Tuesday.

"The president said we have an armada that's going toward the peninsula", Spicer said.

During a White House press briefing last week, Sean Spicer, when asked about the decision to send the strike force to North Korea, claimed the move to be a deterrent.

The naval strike group had actually spent the past few days conducting drills with the Australian Navy, the official said.

A senior administration official blamed a "lack of follow-up" for the blunder.

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