By Thomas WATKINS
The Trump administration on Wednesday tried to clear the waters after it gave confusing messages concerning the whereabouts of a US supercarrier that supposedly was steaming toward North Korea last week.
Amid soaring tensions ahead of North Korea's apparent ramping up for a sixth nuclear test, the US Navy on April 8 said it was directing a naval strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to "sail north" from the waters off Singapore, as a "prudent measure" to deter Pyongyang.
"We are sending an armada. Very powerful," were the words of President Donald Trump, and other officials made it sound like the ships were plowing toward the region.
"A carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly... a huge deterrent. So, I think it serves multiple capabilities," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said April 11.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the region.
But the Navy on Tuesday admitted the ships were in fact sent in the opposite direction -- away from Singapore and toward Australia to conduct drills with the Australian navy.
Defense officials said the Vinson wouldn't be anywhere near North Korea before next week at the earliest -- it is thousands of nautical miles from the Java Sea where the ship was located over the weekend to the Sea of Japan.
Critics pounced on the discrepancy as a dangerous miscommunication, saying it fed into North Korea's narrative that America is all bluster and doesn't follow through on threats.
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