Powerful earthquake strikes Oaxaca, Mexico
How you can help Mexico earthquake victims

San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson strike group headed toward Korean Peninsula

WASHINGTON — A US aircraft carrier-led strike group is headed toward the Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula, a US defense official confirmed to CNN.

Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, directed the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson strike group to sail north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, Pacific Command announced.

The US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson anchores off Manila Bay on May 15, 2011. US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is making a port call in the Philippine capital after its crew buried Osama bin Laden’s remains in the Arabian Sea. AFP PHOTO / JAY DIRECTO (Photo credit should read JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

The move of the Vinson strike group is in response to recent North Korean provocations, the official said.

It is not uncommon for aircraft carriers to operate in that area, and the United States regularly deploys military assets, such as aircraft, to the region as a show of force. In fact, the Vinson was in South Korea last month for military exercises.

Earlier this week, North Korea launched a Scud extended-range missile, which US officials said exploded in flight. The regime also has recently conducted several missile engine tests as it works to improve its ballistic missile technology.

The Vinson strike group will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia, Pacific Command said. The group will remain under the operational control of the Third Fleet.

Reuters first reported the move of the group.