US pilot ejects from jet approaching carrier headed for Korean peninsula

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released

(NEW YORK) — A pilot from the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier safely ejected from a fighter jet, according to a statement from the Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

The pilot was quickly recovered by a helicopter and is being assessed by the medical team on board the carrier. There are no injuries at this time, the statement said.

The pilot ejected from his F/A-18E Super Hornet as it was on its final approach to land on the USS Carl Vinson. The Navy said the plane had been conducting “routine flight operations during a transit in the Celebes Sea.” The body of water is north of Indonesia and south of the Philippines.

The statement did not detail what caused the pilot to eject or when the ejection occurred.

The USS Carl Vinson recently gained international attention for its location, after President Trump recently said that the U.S. was sending an “armada” toward North Korea.

The U.S. Pacific Command had issued a statement that Admiral Harry Harris had “directed the Carl Vinson Strike Group to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean after departing Singapore April 8.”

The statement said that the Vinson would head north “rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia.”

It made no mention of the Sea of Japan or North Korea, though a U.S. official told ABC News that the intended redirection of the Vincent was to the Sea of Japan east of the Korean Peninsula.

Later, Trump administration officials framed the Vinson’s movement to the Korean Peninsula as a reaction to military provocations by North Korea.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was asked why the Vinson strike group was moving to the Korean Peninsula during an interview with Fox News on April 9.

“Well, it’s prudent to do it, isn’t it?” McMaster said. “I mean, North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior.

Three days later, in an interview with Fox Business Network, President Trump said the United States was “sending an armada” after a question about North Korea.

But the Vinson was not immediately headed north. It was actually headed south from Singapore to participate in a four-day military exercise with the Australian Navy that ended Tuesday. The carrier group is not expected in the Sea of Japan until the end of the month.

The White House was forced to clarify the series of confusing and possibly misleading statements about the carrier’s location.

“Well, I mean I — PACOM [U.S. Pacific Command] put out a release talking about the group ultimately ending up in the Korean peninsula. That’s what it will do,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at Wednesday’s press briefing.

When asked whether the president may have spoken too quickly on the ship’s whereabouts before it actually headed north, Spicer replied, “The president said we’d have an armada going towards the peninsula. That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”

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