Don Woodard: A ghostly ship sailing on ghostly seas

A ghostly ship upon a ghostly sea. USS Carl Vinson! Where are you?

On April 19, The New York Times reported that as worries deepened about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared it had ordered a U.S. aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan, sending a powerful deterrent signal and giving President Donald Trump more options in responding to the provocative behavior of Kim Jong-un,the strutting little bomb-making, goose-step-loving North Korean leader with the comical halo haircut.

But hold on! The USS Vinson and the four other warships were not steaming toward the Sea of Japan. They were at that very moment, The Times said, sailing in the opposite direction to take part in joint exercises with the Australian navy in the Indian Ocean – 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.

Various Keystone Kops snippets of information have been put forward by the White House and the Defense Department to account for this mistake. The Times story went on to say that “White House officials said they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there describe a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, all of which perpetuated the false narrative that a U.S. armada was racing toward the waters of North Korea.”

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Mistake or no mistake, the Vinson’s log would record that it had sailed in waters where three years ago a ghostly mystery occurred, the unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 passengers aboard.

The Vinson, a ghostly ship sailing on ghostly seas, the authorities ostensibly unwilling or unable to tell exactly where she was. In December 1941, we had no way of knowing that a Japanese fleet of six giant carriers and dozens of support ships was making its stealthy, ghostly journey to Pearl Harbor. We only found out when the bombs began to fall. In this day of global positioning and other marvels of communication, how could we not know upon what ocean the Vinson and its strike force was sailing? As the King of Siam told Anna, it’s a puzzlement.

Join the Navy and see the world! When the USS Carl Vinson was launched in March 1982, christened for a Georgia congressman, who could have foreseen what bearded, turbaned terrorist she would bury in May 2011 in the deep bosom of the North Arabian sea? Ask the ghost of Osama bin Laden.

Don Woodard is a Fort Worth businessman and author of Black Diamonds! Black Gold! The Saga of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.