Many assume that Burial at Sea is reserved for Navy Veterans only, but they are wrong. Burial at Sea is available for active duty members of the uniformed services, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.
Burial at Sea is a means of final disposition of remains that is performed on United States Navy vessels. The committal ceremony is performed while the ship is deployed. Therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time, and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.
Here is how to go about requesting the burial at sea by the U.S. Navy.
After the death of the individual for whom the request for Burial at Sea is being made, the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (PADD) should contact the Navy and Marine Corps Mortuary Affairs office at 1-866-787-0081 to request a packet and for additional information.
Supporting documents which must accompany this request are:
- a photocopy of the death certificate
- the burial transit permit or the cremation certificate
- a copy of the DD Form 214, discharge certificate, or retirement order.
The Burial at Sea Request Form and the three supporting documents listed above make up the Burial at Sea Request package.
Burial Flag: A Burial Flag is required for all committal services performed aboard United States Naval vessels, except family members, who are not authorized a burial flag. Following the services at sea, the flag that accompanied the cremains/remains will be returned to the PADD. If the PADD does not wish to send a burial flag for the service, a flag will be provided by the Navy for the committal service, but will not be sent to the PADD.
Cremated Remains (Cremains): Cremains must be in an urn or plastic/metal container to prevent spillage in shipping. The cremains, along with the completed Burial at Sea Request package, and the burial flag will be forwarded to the Burial at Sea Coordinator at the desired port of embarkation (listed below). Prior to shipment, it is recommended that a phone call be made informing the coordinator of the pending request. It is also recommended that the cremains package be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.
Intact Remains (Casketed): Specific guidelines are required for the preparation of casketed remains. All expenses incurred in this process are the responsibility of the PADD, who will select a funeral home in the area of the port of embarkation. After this selection has been made and notification has been provided to the coordinator, the casketed remains, the request form, supporting documents, and the burial flag are to be forwarded to the receiving funeral home. The coordinator will make the inspection and complete the checklist for the preparation of casketed remains. It is recommended that funeral homes responsible for preparing and shipping intact remains contact the Mortuary Services office at Navy Casualty in Millington, TN to receive the preparation requirements. The Mortuary Services office can be contacted at Commercial – (901) 874-6682 or 3858 or Toll free – 1-866-787-0081.
Ports of Embarkation
Commander, Naval Medical Center
ATTN: Code 0210C
620 John Paul Jones Cir.
Portsmouth, VA 23708-5100
Phone: (757) 953-2617\2618
San Diego, Calif.
Naval Medical Center
Decedent Affairs Code: 09O4
34800 Bob Wilson Drive
San Diego, CA 92134-5000
Phone: (800) 290-7410
Officer in Charge
Naval Hospital Branch Clinic
P. O. Box 280148
Mayport, FL 32228-0148
Phone: (904) 270-428
Naval Hospital Bremerton
Code: 015-BAS/HP01 Boone Road
Bremerton, WA 98312-1898
Phone: (360) 475-4313
Navy Liaison Unit
Tripler Army Medical Center
Tripler AMC, HI 96859-5000
Phone: (808) 433-4709
If you have further questions concerning the Burial at Sea program, contact the Mortuary Services office at Navy Casualty in Millington, TN using the following numbers. Please call Monday – Friday, 0730-1600 Central Time. Commercial – (901) 874-6682 or 3858. Toll Free – 1-866-787-0081. DSN – 882-6682