Request Made to Hide USS John McCain During Trump Visit to Japan

Trump has criticized McCain when he was alive and after his death last year

The U.S. has acknowledged a request was made to reduce the visibility of the USS John S. McCain during President Donald Trump’s visit last weekend to Japan, but said the ship remained in its normal configuration.

On Thursday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan ordered his chief of staff to investigate reports that the White House ordered the guided-missile destroyer named after McCain be hidden or obscured from view during the president’s visit.

“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, chief of information, said Saturday in a statement obtained by NBC News and CNN.

“There were also no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain.”

After the report surfaced Wednesday, Shanahan said “I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activity regarding that ship. I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. John McCain.”

Shanahan spoke about the issue with reporters at a news conference Friday in Singapore.

Because the destroyer is undergoing repairs after colliding with another ship in 2017, it wasn’t possible to move the ship. A tarp was hung over the ship’s name and a barge was moved in front of the ship to obscure the ship’s name after the tarp was removed. Sailors who typically wear caps with the ship’s name (McCain) were given the day off.

On Thursday, Trump told the media at the White House that he had no knowledge of the plan and wouldn’t have approved that request but he “is not a big fan” of MCain and whoever did it was “well meaning.”

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal cited emails dated May 15 saying the “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight” when Trump visits Yokosuka on Memorial Day.

The ship is named after the long-time senator from Arizona, and originally his father and grandfather, who all served in the Navy.

Trump has criticized McCain when he was alive and after his death last year, noting his vote to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

Trump referenced the former prisoner of war and U.S. senator in a speech in April, months after McCain died. He said McCain “did the nation a tremendous disservice” by not voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.