U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was unaware of any effort to move the USS John S. McCain that was stationed near the site of his recent speech in Japan.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Reuters that an initial request had been made to keep the John McCain out of sight during Trump’s speech but was scrapped by senior Navy officials.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said the White House wanted the U.S. Navy to move the ship, named for the late Arizona senator, “out of sight.” It cited an email between U.S. military officials.
The email to Navy and Air Force officials had a number of directives, including: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,” and asking officials to “please confirm” that directive “will be satisfied.”
The newspaper said a tarpaulin was hung over the ship’s name ahead of Trump’s trip and sailors were directed to remove coverings from the destroyer that bore its name.
It also said sailors assigned to the ship, who generally wear caps bearing its name, were given the day off during Trump’s visit to the nearby USS Wasp. However, the U.S. official said sailors on the ship were given the day off because of Memorial Day.
Trump wrote on Twitter: “I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan.”
Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said the tarpaulin was taken down on Saturday before Trump’s visit to the area. “All ships remained in normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Doss said.