Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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USS Carl Vinson will Counterattack North Korea if Attacked, says Top Navy Admiral

Closer to North Korea

(Photo : US Navy) USS Carl Vinson with deck full of planes.

Adm. Harry Harris, Commander, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), said the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and its Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG-1) will counterattack North Korea if that country bombards it with ballistic missiles.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Apr. 26, Adm. Harris said CSG-1, of which the Vinson is the flagship, can "absolutely" defend itself against anything North Korea can fire at it, including ballistic missiles from the North Korean shore.

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Adm. Harris, however, revealed North Korea does not have a single anti-ship ballistic missile capable of finding, tracking and striking the Vinson. The capability to do efficiently still eludes China despite China's heavily hyped anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) defense network that's not 100 percent effective.

"North Korea does not have a ballistic missile anti-ship weapon that would threaten the Carl Vinson strike group. The weapons that North Korea could put against the Carl Vinson strike group are easily defended by the capabilities resident in that strike group. If it flies it will die, if it's flying against the Carl Vinson strike group," said Adm. Harris.

More ominously, Adm. Harris said CSG-1 will indeed launch a counterstrike if attacked but couched this action in diplomatic terms, calling it the ability to "project power."

"I'm confident in that strike group's ability to not only defend itself but to project power, if that is the call that we receive from the president and secretary of defense."

Adm. Harris, the first Asian-American to achieve the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy, said fighters and ground attack jets of CSG-1 are now less than two hours flying time from North Korea. His mother is Japanese.

He said CSG-1 is transiting the Philippine Sea just east of Okinawa, "in striking range, power projection range, of North Korea if called upon to do that. And then in a few days I expect it will continue to move north."

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