The USS Carl Vinson was sailing through the Celebes Sea on its way to the Korean Peninsula when the incident occurred. The pilot was taking his F/A-18E Super Hornet on what the Seventh Fleet called "routine flight operations." But on his way back to the carrier, he was forced to eject from his aircraft.
The Seventh Fleet says that the pilot was unharmed, and was quickly recovered by helicopter and returned to the carrier. "The incident is currently under investigation. The pilot is being assessed by the medical team on board USS Carl Vinson and there are no apparent injuries at this time," they added.
The world's eyes have been on the USS Carl Vinson, after US President Donald Trump said on April 11 that the US was sending an "armada" toward North Korea as a response to DPRK "provocation."
"A carrier group is several things," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on that same day. "The forward deployment is deterrence, presence." He added, "I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through almost every instance, a huge deterrence."
There was confusion over when the strike group would arrive, as the Vinson was taking part in a joint exercise with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean at that time, thousands of miles from the Korean Peninsula. Some officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, incorrectly claimed that the Australian exercises had been canceled. "[The Carl Vinson] was originally headed in one direction for an exercise, and we canceled our role in that exercise… We had to explain why she wasn't in that exercise."
In fact, the Carl Vinson did take place in the exercises- it was a port call in Fremantle Australia meant to follow the exercises that was cancelled. Eventually the miscommunication was cleared up, and the US carrier group was tentatively scheduled to arrive in the Sea of Japan in late April.
On April 19, reporters asked Spicer if the White House was hasty in announcing the Vinson's path before it actually began to move. Spicer replied, "The president said we'd have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather."