The redirection of the USS Carl Vinson was not supposed to set off an international crisis. Thanks to some story fumbling in the Navy and the mainstream media’s desire to spin things up, that is what we got. Would you like to know what the intention really was and why the story seemed out of kilter? Read on, then.
As Written by David B. Larter for the Navy Times:
In early April, officials at U.S. Pacific Command were developing plans to respond to a sharp rise in tensions with North Korea. Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered PACOM Commander Adm. Harry Harris to come up with “robust and sustainable” options for North Korea if President Trump ordered a strike on the rogue regime, according to four defense officials who spoke on background.
Harris was traveling in Washington away from his Hawaii base of operations, something that he dislikes because, in his view, something always seems to happen when he’s not in his office. At one point that week, top PACOM officials called Harris to recommend that Vinson cancel its upcoming trip to Australia and make its way back to the waters near North Korea where the carrier had just been in March, thus serving as one of the responses to Mattis’s directive that they explore military options for the Trump administration.
The plan was to truncate a secretive exercise with the Australians near Indonesia, to cancel Vinson’s visit to Perth and then head the direction of the Korean Peninsula — meaning Vinson would be off North Korea by the end of the month.
Changing an aircraft carrier’s schedule is not a small muscle movement. Host nations expecting a visit from the mighty U.S. big decks have to do a fair amount of leg work to prepare for the visit. Furthermore, a good number of sailors had family flying out to Australia to meet their sailors. An Australia port visit is the holy grail for sailors on a Western Pacific deployment.
The easiest thing to do, PACOM officials decided, would be send out a press release announcing the canceled port visit — making it easier for families to get their money back from airlines and letting all parties know why the Vinson wouldn’t be visiting the Land Down Under.
And it would have another effect: it would put North Korea on notice by announcing the plans in a press release, which included language that not-so-subtly dropped that Harris had “directed the Carl Vinson Strike Group to sail north and report on station in the western Pacific Ocean after departing Singapore April, 8,” roughly the direction North Korea lies from Singapore. A press release, PACOM officials thought, was the perfect solution to wrap up all the loose ends from the carrier’s schedule……..
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