By: Christopher P. Cavas
WASHINGTON – For more than a week, media reports in the U.S. and around Asia routinely have mentioned the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, seemingly implying an attack on North Korea could be imminent. But a week after the U.S. announced the carrier and its escorts would leave Singapore, forego port calls in Australia and instead return to Korean waters, the carrier and its group had yet to head north.
Rather, the ships were actually operating several hundred miles south of Singapore, taking part in scheduled exercises with Australian forces in the Indian Ocean.
On Saturday – according to photographs released by the U.S. Navy – the carrier passed north through the Sunda Strait, the passage between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. It's about 3,500 miles from Korea.
U.S. Navy officials in Pearl Harbor and Washington declined to comment on the ship’s movements, other than to confirm the April 15 movement through the Sunda Strait. Off the record, several officials expressed wonderment at the persistent reports that the Vinson was already nearing Korea. “We’ve made no such statement,” said one official.
Those same officials did not push back on reports that the Vinson would return to Korean waters, where the strike group operated for much of March as part of the annual U.S.-Korean Foal Eagle exercises. While declining to confirm a specific date, they did not dispute speculative media reports from South Korea that the strike group could be in the region by April 25 or so.
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