Washington: The U.S. Navy acknowledged Saturday it had received a request to shield a U.S. warship bearing the name of former political rival John McCain from President Donald Trump’s view during the commander-in-chief’s visit to Japan last week – but did not comply.
“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,” according to a statement from Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, Chief of Navy Information, that the Pentagon released.
The one-paragraph statement did not mention who made the request and a Pentagon spokesperson did not respond to a request for further information.
In his statement, Brown also said there were “no intentional efforts” to exclude sailors on the McCain from attending the president’s address on Memorial day aboard the USS Wasp at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo. The McCain is docked there for repairs.
White House officials wanted the guided-missile destroyer to be kept “out of sight” during Trump’s visit to Japan, apparently fearful that the president would be upset at having to see the name of the late Arizona senator, a frequent target of the president’s anger.
The ship was named after McCain’s father and grandfather, both decorated admirals. The Navy added the name of Sen. McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam who emerged from captivity a war hero, to the ship in 2018.
Trump on Thursday said he had no knowledge of the request to keep the ship from view, saying, “I would never do a thing like that.” He described the aides that made the request as “well meaning.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced Thursday that he asked his chief of staff to investigate what was behind obscuring the name of the USS John McCain during President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan.
“The Navy is fully cooperating with the review of this matter tasked by the Secretary of Defense,” Brown said in the statement released by the Pentagon.