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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 23rd, 2002, 01:47 PM
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Default Burial At Sea

Since this is question section I will answer the question. HannaS77 is the same person as the author of this article. The article does not cover scattering of ashes at sea. For this you need to contact the Captain or staff. I was on a ship where someone scattered ashes from a midship balconey onto passengers on a lower deck.

by Hermann Paul Schlander

Information on burial of a body of a deceased cruise ship passenger at sea is rather limited The subject aroused my interest when a cruise ship passenger complained the Captain would not bury her husband, who had died of a heart attack while the vessel was at sea. The action or lack thereof is understandable for only under certain conditions can a ship Captain dispatch a dead body into the sea. A problem confronting the Captain might be there was no autopsy by someone qualified. Rules applying to dead bodies aboard a ship at sea are based on custom, some of which may be archaic. Another impediment is that the ship doctor cannot embalm the body since he could ultimately be sued for mutilating the body. The following are some rules based on custom applicable to dead bodies at seas.

"Where the ship passenger's death occurred more than five days before the end of the voyage, or from the nearest port, the ship's Master has no duty to embalm the body, in fact is under no duty to do so under pain of possible lawsuit for mutilation of the body. The Master has the absolute discretion concerning proper disposition of the corpse, the custom to burial at sea having long been associated with usage."

"Cruise ships may have the capacity to hold the body, such as a cold storage locker until the ship reaches a port where the body can be turned over to the Consul or Embassy of the nationality of the deceased passenger or to local authorities."

There are only a very few lawsuits over the disposal of dead bodies at sea and these are over 50 years old. One lawsuit has been decided over the disposal of a body while sea rather than the refusal of the ship's Master to bury the body at sea.

The writer is not a lawyer nor giving legal advice. For that rely on an attorney. The information is for reader information and interest.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 23rd, 2002, 04:07 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 670
Default Re: Burial At Sea

Purposefully stayed out of the original thread about burial at sea but since then there was an interesting event in the local paper. Someone snagged the casket from a whole body burial at sea.

Not familiar with civilian procedures but both the Navy and Coast Guard receive enough requests for burial at sea that there are very specific procedures. The days of heaving a body over the side shortly after death are long gone. Whole body burials are discouraged but if done, the casket must be weighted, a specified number of wholes drilled and must be committed in water much deeper than the location of the recovered one. Most burials are cremains, where the ashes are spread (downwind from the stern) or the urn is simply committed to the deep. In any case the ship stops engines, all hands turn to, and an appropriate ceremony is held. The location is recorded and passed to whoever arranged the burial. The procedure is available to current or former military but with political help, others have been buried with the same dignity and ceremony.

There is a commercial concern here in FL that will perform cremated and whole body burials at sea.

Personally I see nothing wrong with honoring someone's final wish to be buried at sea by privately dropping the urn over the side in the middle of the night. I can see where popping the lid in a strong wind might not work out.
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Old July 26th, 2002, 11:45 PM
Carole Dunham
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Burial At Sea

When I was a little girl, one year I was in summer camp and my parents went to Europe back and forth on the Queen Mary. When they came back to the US, they were delayed at the Ambrose (?) Lightship because of heavy fog. There was a young Immigrant family onboard. Their 12 year old daughter got sick and died. She was buried at sea. Her parents didn't have enough money to take her ashore for burial. But I'm just a little bit younger than the dinosaurs and this was a LOT of years ago. My mother was horrified. Personally I think when you're dead all you need to do is bury someone with respect. The ceremony of burial at sea is very respectful.

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