The Casket Option
If the family has decided to use a casket instead of a shroud for the burial at sea.
A metal casket, similar to the one displayed, must be used because it must be able to deteriorate in the marine environment. This is a basic casket and comes in various colors. Other styles of casket are available if you wish to upgrade your selection.
A wooden casket is not appropriate as it will not deteriorate as easily and it will be a lot heavier. This would mean more ballast and it would be much more difficult to handle on a boat at sea.
Removing Plastic / Fabric Etc.
Drilling Holes in Casket
All materials that are non-biodegradable from inside the casket must be removed. This would include all types of plastic and anything else that would create marine debris.
If it will not degrade it will not be allowed inside the casket.
At least twenty 2 inch holes will be drilled in the casket to the allow water to rush in and the air to escape. This will result in it sinking rapidly. The holes may be covered with cloth or paper so the body is not visible, however no plastic containing adhesives or tape will be used.
Securely Sealing the Casket
The locking mechanisms on caskets are very minor because they are normally just buried. In the case of sea burial, the casket must remain securely closed. This is accomplished by branding the casket with at lease 6 stainless steel bands, chains or natural fiber ropes. One band should be placed over each of the two lengthwise axes of the casket (top-to-bottom and head-to-foot), as well as four bands at evenly spaced intervals along the narrow axis of the casket. This procedure is used because most caskets have both head and foot sections which may open.
Diagram from the United States Navy Burial at Sea Program’s Guidelines for Casket Preparation (2010)
Weighting the Casket
The casket must be delivered to the ocean floor in an expedient manner and remain on the ocean floor. To aid with this additional weight (ballast) will be added to the casket to achieve a total weight of at least 300 lbs. This will offset any bouyency from the body and casket itself. Some of the weight will be placed toward the feet to allow for feet first sinking.