The Wall Street Journal reports that President Trump ordered the locally-anchored USS John McCain to cover its name in tarp and stay hidden while he was visiting Japan. Sailors, who wear badges with the ship's name, were given the day off or told to stay away from official events where Trump would be present.
"I think it's fair to say that it was something that really stunned a lot of the officials who were on the receiving end of the directive," Ballhaus said. "We reviewed some emails that were exchanged between various Navy commanders and officials for the U.S. in the Pacific command and both sides really seemed taken aback by the request, even the person who was conveying the request from the White House military office."
Among the measures taken were a tarp that covered the ship's name and, as the president's visit approached, a barge was moved closer to the USS John McCain to make it less visible. Sailors on board the ship were instructed to remove any items that displayed its name and were also given the day off when the president visited, the Journal said.
An official naval account tweeted that the report was false, but photos showed it was true and the Pentagon ultimately admitted likewise:
NEW: The White House wanted the USS John McCain "out of sight" for Trump's visit to Japan. A tarp was hung over the ship's name ahead of the trip, and sailors—who wear caps bearing the ship's name—were given the day off for Trump's visit. w/@gluboldhttps://t.co/6ugPceCOre pic.twitter.com/KuIoWJK5Kt
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) May 29, 2019