The strike group heading the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which was moving toward North Korea according to Washington's statement 10 days ago, was in the Indian Ocean over the weekend, about 5000km away from the Korean peninsula, according to a photo published by the US Armada.
White House officials said Tuesday that they had been relying on guidance from the Defense Department.
North Korea said Monday that it is prepared to conduct frequent missile tests despite warnings from the US not to do so.
Given the timing, it hardly needed to: Trump had just wrapped up a two-day summit with Xi at the Mar-a-Lago resort with a message that the U.S. had run out of patience with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and its nuclear and missile programs. Asked about the deployment in an interview with Fox Business Network that aired April 12, President Trump said: "We are sending an armada, very powerful".
Remember that aircraft carrier that Trump sent to deter North Korea?
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday taunted President Trump over reports a USA aircraft carrier was not at a location previously announced by the White House.
China and Russia, which prioritize stability in the Korean Peninsula, showed concern over the tough USA stance, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying the issue should be resolved peacefully through political and diplomatic efforts.
Tensions have been building between North Korea and the US. But it was now "proceeding as ordered", it said.
It came as US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crew of USS nuclear-powered carrier Ronald Reagan in its home-port Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.
The carrier and her escorts are now expected to arrive off the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, where they will join South Korean naval units for a series of drills. 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.
The Navy posted an official photograph dated April 15 that showed the Carl Vinson in an Indonesian strait thousands of miles south of North Korea.
"He is doing the wrong thing", he said of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"North Korea is the most risky and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific", Mr Pence said.
Singapore-based security expert Ian Storey said countries in the region would have found the confusion over the strike group's location "unsettling and perplexing".