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Burials at Sea

Posted by Laurie Frost on May 29, 2010

I was looking for BP oil spill photos on the Navy’s Eye on the Fleet pages when I came across these public domain images of burials at sea. I don’t know how they might be of use to anyone, but the procedures intrigued me, and they seem appropriate viewing for Memorial Day weekend.

Burials can involve either casketed or cremated remains. Note the special apparatus used for funneling the cremated remains away from the ship and into the sea — I suppose it is to prevent an ocean wind from blowing them back onto the deck.

If you are interested in the criteria for being buried at sea, this is the page to visit at navy.mil. Here is a brief news story describing the experience of participating in one of these ceremonies.

Number in brackets is the image’s ID for quick searching to download high resolution files. There are many more at the Eye on the Fleet site; searching “burial at sea” yields 287 images.

Flag bearers snap to attention before removing the American flag from the casket of Chief Photographer's Mate Edgar Tiemann during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).

Flag bearers remove the American flag from the casket of Chief Photographer's Mate Edgar Tiemann during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).

The remains of 13 Sailors and Marines are interned in the Atlantic Ocean during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).

Honor guards stand at attention before removing the American flag and releasing the casket of one of 13 sailors and Marines interned in the Atlantic Ocean during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) Feb. 23, 2008. U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mandy Hunsucker [080223-N-7987H-023, 080223-N-7987H-025, 080223-N-7987H-037]

Sailors assigned to the weapons department of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) render a rifle salute during a burial-at-sea ceremony.

Rifle salute on carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68)  during a burial-at-sea ceremony. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Peter Merrill [090725-N-2918M-143] 

The ashes of service members and their spouses are arranged on a table during a burial at sea ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Urns containing the ashes of service members and their spouses await burial at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) June 9, 2009. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Torrey W. Lee [090609-N-3610L-073]

Command Chaplain Cmdr. Lee Axtell releases a service member's cremains to the sea during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

You can read about this ceremony here.  The remains of 14 people were buried at sea from the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on Memorial Day, 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Scott [080526-N-1635S-009]

A burial-at-sea participant picks up the cremains of retired U.S. Navy Capt. and astronaut Walter M. (Wally) Schirra during a ceremony held aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

A sailor picks up the urn containing the ashes of U.S. Navy Capt. and astronaut Walter M. (Wally) Schirra buried at sea from the USS Ronald Reagan on Feb. 11, 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kathleen Gorby [080211-N-4776G-175]

Burials at sea can be performed from the air or land as well. Cremated remains can be released from the air into the sea.

 Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Nathan Briles, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two One (HSC-21) releases the cremated remains.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two One (HSC-21) conducted a burial at sea Jan. 4, 2006  off the coast of San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Scott Taylor [060104-N-9500T-051]

Cryptologic Technician Operator 3rd Class Evan Allen, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) pours the cremated remains of his grandfather Darrell Allen, a Pearl Harbor survivor, over the side of the USS Utah Memorial

Here’s the story about this image [030830-N-3228G-005]:
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Aug. 30, 2003) — Cryptologic Technician Operator 3rd Class Evan Allen, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) pours the cremated remains of his grandfather Darrell Allen, a Pearl Harbor survivor, over the side of the USS Utah Memorial during Peleliu’s brief port visit to Pearl Harbor. Darrell Allen was a Machinist Mate on the submarine USS Cachalot (SS 170), which was anchored at Berth 1, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Dec. 7, 1941. The Cachalot was one of four U.S. subs in Pearl Harbor that day. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class William R. Goodwin.

While a single trumpet playing “Taps” is most common —

Machinist Mate 3rd Class Brian Walker plays TAPS on his trumpet during a Burial at Sea on the fast combat support ship USS Sacramento (AOE 1)

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Martin S. Fuentes. [030415-N-5555F-075]

— even bagpipes can be involved. The caption for the picture below reads: “Combat Systems Officer Cmdr. Mark Sanford of Warrington, Pa., practices his bagpipes during a no-fly day on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).”

Combat Systems Officer Cmdr. Mark Sanford of Warrington, Pa., practices his bagpipes during a no-fly day on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Alex J. Recalde [040615-N-5952R-005]

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