USS Carl Vinson begins drills with Japanese destroyers

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TOKYO — American aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson started joint drills with two Japanese destroyers in the western Pacific Ocean on Sunday, authorities said.

The Ashigara and Samidare destroyers will take part in “tactical training” drills with the US carrier near the Philippines, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force said.

SUNDA STRAIT, INDONESIA – APRIL 14: In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait on April 14, 2017 in Indonesia. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano / U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

In the face of recent saber-rattling from North Korea, US President Donald Trump had said the USS Carl Vinson carrier group was being deployed to waters off the Korean peninsula

The location of the USS Carl Vinson has dominated headlines after Pres. Trump’s remark on April 12.

Pres. Trump said he was sending “an armada” to Korean waters potentially to deal with threats from North Korea. The statement came after Pyongyang said it had successfully launched a new ballistic missile.

SOUTH CHINA SEA – APRIL 8: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Sailors conduct flight operations on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Brown/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Pres. Trump told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

But it turned out the carrier group was not actually steaming toward the peninsula, but rather heading to joint exercises with the Australian navy.

The US Pacific Command said Tuesday that training with the Australian navy had been completed, and that “the Carl Vinson Strike Group is heading north to the Western Pacific as a prudent measure.”

SOUTH CHINA SEA – APRIL 8: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the South China Sea on April 8, 2017. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Brown/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

US defense officials told CNN the Vinson and its carrier group would arrive off the Korean Peninsula by the end of April.

Two days later, the US Navy announced Thursday that it was extending the Vinson’s deployment by 30 days “to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.”