U.S. Navy Reactivates Dormant Twitter Account to Deny Reports USS John S. McCain Was Obstructed During Donald Trump Visit

U.S President Donald Trump onboard the Japan's navy ship Kaga on May 28, 2019 in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan. The U.S. leader has denied having any knowledge of reported attempts to keep the warship USS John S. McCain 'out of sight' during his visit to a naval base. Charly Triballeau/Getty

After years of radio silence, the U.S. Navy's Chief of Information's Twitter account was revived on Wednesday. It was stirred into action by reports military officials had bowed to a White House demand to keep the name of a warship named after President Donald Trump's late Republican rival John McCain "out of sight" during the U.S. leader's visit to a naval base in Japan earlier this week.

"The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day," Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, the Navy's new Chief of Information, wrote on Wednesday, seeking to dispel the claims, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

"The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage," Brown said.

As many social media users were quick to note, the Wednesday message from the Navy Chief of Information's office was the first to be tweeted from the official account since January 11, 2014, more than five years ago.

"Whoa! Trouble finding the log-in? Only been a few years," one Twitter user wrote.

"It has been a few years. But I have been in this job less than a week," Brown responded. "This isn't how I had planned to reactivate the CHINFO Twitter account. And yet, here we are," he added.

The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.

— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) May 30, 2019

Citing an email dated to May 15 sent from an official at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials, The Wall Street Journal had reported that military officials had been directed to keep the USS John S McCain out of view during the president's Memorial Day visit to Yokosuka on Tuesday.

The USS John S. McCain destroyer was initially named after late Senator John McCain's father and grandfather, but it was also dedicated to the Arizona lawmaker and war hero shortly after his death in August 2018.

In its report, the Journal published a photograph showing that tarpaulin had been placed over the McCain ahead of Trump's arrival in Japan last Saturday and asserted that sailors had also been told to remove any coverings from the ship bearing its name.

In addition, the newspaper reported that sailors on the ship, who typically wear caps with its name, were also told to take the day off during the president's visit.

The U.S. leader has claimed to have no knowledge of any White House demand that McCain's name be covered, with Trump tweeting on Wednesday that he "was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan."

"Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women–what a spectacular job they do!" he added.

On his own Twitter account, Brown attempted to respond to individual claims made in the Journal's report, replying to a tweet showing the photo of the warship covered with tarpaulin that the photo was "not from the day of the POTUS visit...as the WSJ report itself mentions."

In a separate tweet, he said that while he has "tons of respect" for the Wall Street Journal reporters who broke the story, "the ship's name was not obscured during the POTUS visit."

"USS John S. McCain is a great ship with a great crew, and their namesakes, all 3, have an incredible heritage in the Pacific," he said.

Later on, the Navy Chief of Information joked that he had "really thought I'd get to use, 'New CHINFO, who dis?'" as his first tweet. "But probably not the right time for that," he said.

Really thought I’d get to use, “New CHINFO, who dis?” But probably not the right time for that. Short story: this acct used to be run by @johnfkirby63. He’s retired from both here and @PentagonPresSec. Reactivating the account to try to help share info about @USNavy

— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) May 30, 2019

Twitter users can, however, expect more activity from the CHINFO account, with Brown explaining that while the account used to be run by former Navy Chief of Information John Kirby, who later went on to work as the Pentagon's Press Secretary, Kirby had since retired from both roles.

Brown said he wanted to reactivate the account "to try to help share info about" the U.S. Navy.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and Navy Chief of Information's office for comment on this story.