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I Want To Be Buried At Sea. What Do I Have To Do?

If you want your last final resting place to be “down at the bottom of the deep blue sea” then it can be done, but there are quite a few rules and regulations which you and your family will need to know to fulfill your burial at sea request. Generally it is members or veterans of the armed forces which choose this sort of ceremony, although close members of their families may also request a burial at sea.

Burials at sea are possible for both cremated and non-cremated remains, and burial is also possible in inland waters although you would need to get a special permit for this as it is regulated by the Clean Water Act.

There may also be additional legal requirements for a sea burial.

Burial at Sea General Requirements

Preparation for Burial – human remains which are to be buried at sea must be prepared in accordance with accepted practices. This can include requirements which are deemed appropriate by either the United States Navy, the Coast Guard or the civil authority who has the responsibility in your area. Some local health departments may need cremation or burial permits, for example.

Burying NonCremated Remains at Sea – the laws state that any non-cremated remains must be buried at least 3 nautical miles away from the land and in water at least 600 feet deep (this is as much as 1800 feet deep in some areas – check your local regulations). Everything possible must be done to make sure that the body sinks to the bottom as quickly as possible and stays there.

Burying Cremated Remains at Sea – The depth of the water is not so important when burying cremated remains at sea, but they must still be at least 3 nautical miles from land.

Flowers – the placing of flowers or wreaths at the burial site is fine as long as the materials are readily decomposable.

Within 30 days of the burial taking place (whether cremated or non-cremated remains) you must fill out a report to the EPA. This is to make sure that they have all of the necessary details about the burial including date, time, location of remains or scatter, whether the remains were cremated etc. This is really important so don’t forget.

Other Useful Information about Burial at Sea

Following are the general outlines of the United States Navy Mortuary Affairs Burial at Sea Program

  • Funeral Ceremony – the committal ceremony will be performed while the US Navy vessel is deployed so family members will not be permitted to attend. After the ceremony, however, the commanding officer will inform the family of the time, date, longitude and latitude where it took place.
  • Who is Eligible – there are four basic groups of people who are eligible for a US Navy burial at sea:- 1 – active members of the armed forces, 2 – veterans and retirees who were honorably discharged, 3 – civilian members of the Military Sealift Command and 4 – dependent members of the families of any of the above.
  • Getting Started – immediately after someone has died who is eligible for and has requested a burial at sea, the PADD (Person Authorized to Direct Disposition) should fill out the Burial at Sea Request Form. This must be admitted along with a copy of the death certificate, the burial transmit permit or certificate of cremation, a copy of DD Form 214, a copy of their discharge certificate or retirement order (if appropriate).
  • Burial Flag – all committal services performed on board US Navy vessels should have a burial flag (except family members who aren’t allowed to have one!) The flag may be flown during the committal service and returned to the PADD afterwards. If the PADD does not supply a flag then the ships own flag may be used but it will not be sent to the PADD
  • Cremated remains (Cremains) – Cremains must be in an urn (it can be either plastic, metal or cardboard) and sent to the Burial-at-Sea Co-ordinator at the port of embarkation along with the BAS form and flag – if appropriate.
  • Casketed remains – there are very strict guidelines about the preparation of the body before burial at sea is permitted. For a start, the remains must be in a metal casket and all expenses are the responsibility of the PADD who should choose a funeral home which is close to the selected port of embarkation (only the ports of Norfolk and San Diego are available for the embarkation of intact remains). The remains must be inspected by the co-ordinator and a checklist of all forms made before the funeral can take place. In fact, the best thing is for the funeral home to contact the Navy Mortuary Affairs at the Military Medical Support Office, Great Lakes, Illinois to find out about the full requirements necessary.

Free Burial Insurance Rate Quote

Most people who are searching online for burial insurance don’t realize that funeral insurance is essentially life insurance. A very inexpensive way to obtain quality burial insurance is to get a free life insurance quote.

Funeral Burial Insurance Quote

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Burial Funeral Insurance Quote

Funeral Burial Insurance Quote

Burial insurance (aka funeral insurance) is a basic issue life insurance policy that covers people until they reach 100 years old. Burial insurance (also known as funeral insurance) is promoted as a way to pay in advance for your funeral expenses so that your loved ones won’t have to pay for your funeral. There are many things you can do to make your death easier on the wallets of those you love. Preplanning your funeral saves money and grief, as well as deciding whether you want to be buried in a casket or cremated and put into and urn, figuring out who gets what part of your estate and all the related turmoil associated with the end of life.

Return to the Burial Insurance Information FAQ page.