Mike Pence visits US aircraft carrier as questions emerge over Trump's 'armada'

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The White House on Wednesday attempted to clarify President Donald Trump's statement last week that he sent the USS Carl Vinson toward North Korea, saying that "the president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula", and "it is happening".

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on April 11 said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the peninsula and President Donald Trump the next day said: "We are sending an armada". That's a fact. It happened. "I'd refer you back to any other issues with that to the Department of Defense", he said.

Reporter: The "Uss Carl Vinson" strike group is finally on its way toward the Korean peninsula today.

The Navy posted a photograph showing the Carl Vinson still in the Sunda Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, about 3,500 miles south of the Korean peninsula. But it was now "proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered". Martin pointed out last week that the Vinson battle group would not be arriving in the Korean peninsula until next week, on April 26.

Latest media reports from the United States and the Republic of Korea indicate that the Carl Vinson's task group is expected to reach Korean waters on April 25.

Tensions further escalated in the runup to April 15, the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung.

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The announcement came as many speculated that North Korea could be on the verge of a nuclear test, and numerous US officials said deploying the ships was a muscular display of force.

The White House said it did not mislead allies about the ship's movements.

On April 11, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was sending a formidable "armada" to the North. "That's a fact", Spicer said. It also followed the country's administration criticising a U.S. attack on a Syrian air base, saying it was an "intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state". A spokesman for the Pacific Command linked the move directly to North Korea's "reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability".

Last week President Trump said an "armada" was being sent. "We want to send an unambiguous message especially to North Korea that any attempt to use weapons of any kind against our allies in this region or American forces overseas will be defeated and will be met with overwhelming force", Pence said in an interview with CNN. The narrative last week was that the US and its allies in the western Pacific were gearing up for a showdown with strongman Kim Jong Un ahead of the anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

By the time the misunderstanding was realised, the genie was out of the bottle, with news outlets across the world reporting that the naval strike group was steaming north to scare the rogue nation straight.