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Military Burial at Sea ceremonies were first done out of necessity due to deaths during long trips at sea. As time went on, the burials were accompanied by religious or military ceremonies. The burial at sea custom even became preferable later among non sea-going citizens.

At this time, there are more choices available for burial at sea whether it is in a full-body casket or in an urn containing ashes after cremation. In the photo sailors release the ashes of a deceased Sailor during a burial at sea ceremony onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. Photo: US Navy

Military Burial at Sea Services

If a military option is chosen, the ceremonies do not involve members of the family. In fact several urns or caskets may be included in one service.

The ceremonies for the military at this time in the Navy  require Uniform of the Day and an appropriate person to conduct the services. Then the services are conducted as follows:

  • Station firing squad, casket bearers and bugler.
  • Officer’s call. Pass the word “All hands bury the dead” (the ships should be stopped, if practicable, and colors displayed at half-mast.
  • Assembly.
  • Adjutant’s call (Call to Attention).
  • Bring the massed formation to Parade Rest.
  • Burial service.
    • The Scripture (Parade Rest).
    • The prayers (Parade Rest, heads bowed).
    • The Committal (Attention, Hand Salute).
    • The Benediction (Parade Rest, heads bowed).
  • Fire three volleys (Attention, Hand Salute).
  • Taps. Close up colors. Resume course and speed at the last note of Taps (Hand Salute)
  • Encasing of the flag (Attention).
  • Retreat (Resume normal duties).

When cremains are received, the urn is placed on a small table while the ceremony is conducted. After the ceremony, the urn is opened and the ashes are scattered in the sea. If the urn is not to be opened, it is slid into the sea using a small platform. Within 10 days, the next of kin will be notified.

Some burials may be eligible for Veteran’s benefits. However, all expenses must be paid in advance. Those military members must also provide the remains in an appropriate casket or urn to be used in the ceremony. The costs multiply quickly and veteran burial allowances may not be enough.

Burial at Sea with Private Civilian Yacht

Luckily, an honoring and more affordable option is possible. With the popularity of cremation rising due to being cheaper than in-ground burial, many surviving family members and friends have found solace in choosing the spreading of ashes at sea themselves on a private yacht. Burial at sea is not only cheaper option for surviving families, but also allows the close intimacy and open air of the sea, creating an indescribable setting for laying a loved one to rest. The scattering of ashes at sea is an ideal solution for the heavy expenses of funeral costs, while refusing to sacrifice the respect every veteran deserves, young or old.

In contrast to the military type experience, ash scattering services offer the option to have family members accompany the cremains to scatter them on the sea and have a wonderful experience taking part celebrating the life of their loved one. All types of religious services are welcomed.

The advantages of ash scattering are many and are less expensive because there are no costs for land to bury or expensive urns. Often families even make annual trips to celebrate the event and visit the sea life they saw on the original trip. There are 5 good reason for burial at sea.

Burial at Sea and Cremation Services

Please contact us for more information and to schedule the releasing of your loved one to the ocean. As well, please remember that we also perform cremation though our sister company Funerals Your Way (FD: 2188) – a licensed California funeral home.

We’d love to hear your if your family has had any experiences using the military services for burial at sea. Please just send us some information in the comment section below and we would be happy to post it here.

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