No One Seems To Know If This American Supercarrier Is Headed To Korea Or Not

The USS Carl Vinson transits the Suda Strait on April 15, 2017. Photo credit: U.S. Navy
The USS Carl Vinson transits the Suda Strait on April 15, 2017. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

The USS Carl Vinson is a 1,092-foot long, 101,300-ton warship. It carries 90 aircraft capable of raining down hell upon nearly whomever they feel like. It travels in a pack with at least two 505-foot-long destroyers, one 567-foot-long cruiser, and a submarine that’s over 300 feet long. It was supposed to go to the Korean Peninsula this week. Or not. No one seems to know.

Not even President Donald J. Trump, ostensibly the man who is supposed to be leading the Navy that the USS Carl Vinson belongs to, seems to know what’s going on with it. On April 12, Trump told Fox Business News that he was sending the Vinson as a response to North Korean threats and the increasing likelihood that the reclusive and oppressive nation would conduct yet another nuclear test:

“We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” Trump told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “We have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: he is doing the wrong thing.”


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis went so far as to tell Voice of America that the Vinson, part of Carrier Strike Group 1, had “canceled” its plans to participate in exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean just so it could steam up to North Korea.

But did it? The New York Times says no:

As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior.

The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.

The mixup was first noticed when the Navy actually sent out a photo (you can see it above) with the caption saying:

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet.


And hey, wow, if you look on a map, it turns out the Sunda Strait is actually nowhere near North Korea, and is actually in the opposite direction one would need to head in if one was a giant aircraft carrier and heading to the Korean peninsula from Singapore, as the Carl Vinson was supposed to be doing.

Illustration for article titled No One Seems To Know If This American Supercarrier Is Headed To Korea Or Not

So was the Carl Vinson heading to North Korea, as the Trump administration said it was currently doing, or was it heading to long-planned exercises in the Indian Ocean, as the Navy said it was doing?

Neither, or possibly both, CNN reports:

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike group will arrive off the Korean Peninsula at the end of April, multiple US defense officials tell CNN.

The carrier and its escorts left Singapore on April 8, according to a statement from the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. They were ordered to head north to the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korean provocations, defense officials told CNN at the time.


So maybe the carrier will get to Korea. Eventually. Just after it finishes up these exercises. Which the Secretary of Defense said were canceled. Or are still on. It’s a bit unclear at the moment.

Have you seen the Carl Vinson? If so, please tell us.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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