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USS Carl Vinson carrier group expected off Korea at end of April

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.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 31, 2016)- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) sails through the Pacific ocean. Carl Vinson is underway conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California. (Navy photo by Kenneth J. Blair/ released)

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.

Officials later said the strike group, including the 97,000-ton carrier and its 60-plus aircraft, the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain would participate in naval exercises with the Australian navy south of Singapore before heading to Korea.

But the announcement that the Vinson had been dispatched to Korea increased tensions with Pyongyang, with its official Korean Central News Agency calling the carrier’s deployment “nothing but a reckless action of aggression to aggravate the tensions in the region.”

US President Donald Trump added to the tension early last week by telling Fox Business News he was sending “an armada” of powerful warships and submarines to waters off Korea.

But as of Saturday, the Vinson group was nowhere near the region.

The US Navy does not officially confirm the whereabouts of its warships for security reasons. But photographs posted on the Navy’s website on Tuesday showed the Vinson and its escorts were still in the Indian Ocean late last week.

And a picture dated April 15 shows the Vinson in the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

The Sunda Strait is about 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) from the Korean Peninsula. At maximum speed of about 35 mph, it would take the Vinson almost four days to cover that distance.