USS Carl Vinson Deployment Extends By A Month As Group Sails Toward Korea

news
An F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 “Kestrels” takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck.
U.S. Navy photo

The USS Carl Vinson’s crew is getting an extra month at sea as the strike group sails toward the Korean peninsula following much confusion over its initial orders.


The announcement by the group’s commander, Rear Adm. James Kilby, came after photos showed the aircraft carrier and its fleet of warships were nowhere near the divided peninsula as tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program reached a peak.

“Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean peninsula,” Kilby wrote Wednesday on the group’s Facebook page.

“While all of us look forward to being connected with our friends and families, our nation requires us to be its flexible force, the away team, and as we have done time and time again through history, we won’t let her down now,” he added.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered the strike group to return to South Korea as a deterrent during a period when fears were high that the North would conduct another nuclear test to mark the birthday of its late founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday.

“We’re sending an armada,” Trump told Fox News on April 11.

That plan was thrown into doubt when photos taken last weekend showed it operating nearly 3,500 miles away, off Indonesia. The confusion was caused by miscommunications between the White House and the Defense Department, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The carrier group was finally on its way and is expected to arrive in the region next week, the Times quoted unnamed Defense Department officials as saying.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified military source, also reported that the strike group was expected to arrive next week. It said South Korea and the United States were discussing plans to conduct a joint exercise after it gets here.

U.S. Pacific Command said the Carl Vinson and its accompanying warships had completed a shortened, long-planned joint exercise with Australia after leaving Singapore on April 8 but had canceled a scheduled port visit to Perth.

“The USS Carl Vinson Strike Group is proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered,” the command said in a statement on Tuesday. “The Carl Vinson Strike Group is heading north to the Western Pacific as a prudent measure.”

Navy officials declined to discuss specific timing of future operations because of security concerns.

The announcement that the crew’s deployment was being extended means the carrier will return to South Korea just over a month after it was last here to participate in annual, bilateral war games.

Trump has signaled he will take a hard line in dealing with North Korea’s defiance, and both sides have traded threats of pre-emptive military action.

North Korea didn’t conduct a nuclear test on Kim Il Sung’s birthday, which is the country’s biggest holiday. Instead it staged a massive military parade in Pyongyang that featured what appeared to be a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile.

The North also tried but failed to launch what U.S. officials said was a medium-range missile on Sunday.

Many experts warned there was still time for another “provocation” from the North as it gears up to celebrate its army’s 85th anniversary on April 25.

The USS Carl Vinson strike group includes the flagship aircraft carrier, its air wing, the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain.

“Our mission is to reassure allies and our partners of our steadfast commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Kilby said. “We will continue to be the centerpiece of visible maritime deterrence, providing our national command authority with flexible deterrent options, all domain access, and a visible forward presence.”

He also thanked the families of the sailors on board for their continued sacrifice, understanding and support.

———

©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

US Marine Corps

The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

Read More Show Less

At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.

A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.

Read More Show Less

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

Read More Show Less