When the U.S. Navy announced that the USS Carl Vinson strike group would cancel a planned port call in Perth, Australia and instead set a course for North Korea, it was billed as a show of force.
But the U.S. Pacific command left out a few important details, including how long it would take to get there.
At the moment, the American aircraft carrier and its escort ships are nowhere near Korea. As of Tuesday, the U.S. warships ships were still wrapping up an exercise with the Australian navy, and are currently off that country's west coast, about 5,000 miles away, a Pentagon official conceded Tuesday.
The port visit was canceled; the exercise was not.
The U.S. ships are now heading north, but not at top speed, and are not expected to arrive in waters off the coast of Korea for at least a week.
But once on station, they will add considerable firepower to the region.
The "armada," as President Trump referred to it, includes two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Michael Murphy and USS Wayne E. Meyer, which are equipped with Aegis anti-missile systems capable of shooting down North Korean missiles, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, which carries Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles.
Asked about the change in the deployment plans for the carrier strike force announced earlier this month, national security advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said April 9 the move was "prudent."
"I mean, North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior," McMaster said on Fox News Sunday. "The president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat the American people and to our allies and partners in the region."
A news release from the U.S. Navy's Third fleet issued earlier this month stated incorrectly that once departing Singapore on April 8, the USS Carl Vinson strike group would "sail north and report on station in the western Pacific Ocean."
"It failed to mention that the ships would first make a quick detour to the south to complete the long-scheduled exercise with Australia," a defense official said.
The official said the third fleet public affairs office was also anxious to get the word out because the canceled port visit would affect friends and families of the crew who might have planned to meet the ship.
"The news release was misleading, but not intentionally so," the official said.