Burial At Sea – Advance Planning Needed

Burial at Sea – for Nautical Types.

Burial at sea

Nautical Burials

Burial at sea ideally needs a little advance planning.  The areas are that can be used are very restricted. With the right advance planning, the licence, special doctors certificate and a specially designed coffin are readily available.  But if you just want your cremated ashes to be scattered at sea, no licence is needed at present.  But do check in case the rules change, and the Scots have their own rules anyway!

As an update, after several requests, we are looking into the possibility of a prepaid funeral plan with the specific objective of including burial at sea.  If that is something which is of interest, let us know as the more applicants we have, the more flexible the providers are willing to be!

The licence for nautical burial costs £175 (April 2016.)  It is best to start the application process in advance, to avoid delay. However, John Lister of  Burial at Sea advises us that delays are usually minimal.  In England, there are only three areas where nautical burials are allowed. You can (in theory) propose a new site with clear co-ordinates and sound evidence that the area is suitable. We imagine that will be quite a tough

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

job, and certainly not something to be set up at the last minute.  One suspects it would be years and involve all sorts of expensive reports and multiple agencies. And then it would probably be turned down! If in doubt, contact the Marine Management Organisation.

Burial at any of these sites will normally be straightforward.

  • Off The Needles, Isle of Wight.
  • Between Hastings and Newhaven.
  • Off Tynemouth, North Tyneside.

Licences are granted by the Marine Management Organisation service. You need to register an account online, and use the correct browser, before you can start. However, a suitable funeral director will sort most of this out for you.  You will need the following documents:

  • the death certificate.
  • A Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infection (available from the deceased person’s GP or hospital doctor.)
  • A notice of intention to remove a body out of England (available from the Coroner in exchange for a Certificate of Disposal provided by the Registrar).

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has the right to inspect the body and coffin before authorising such a burial.

The following is an article from The Britannia Shipping Company who run a specialist service.

Burial at Sea is a tradition that goes back many years and is very straightforward to arrange.

We provide a template for the proceedings on the day, and suggest an order of service which is then tailored to suit the individual concerned.

We will be in very close contact with the appointed Executor. He or she will always know as much as we about the time and date of the sailing. The deceased will be in a specially designed, weighted coffin as directed by the Ministry.

The coffin will already be on the vessel (draped in the flag of the deceaseds choosing) as the mourners walk along the quayside, before coming on board.

Currently, we sail from Keyhaven, in Hampshire, which is a picturesque port of departure. There is a large (metered) car park with conveniences. Adjacent to the car park is The Gun a friendly pub with good food ( SO41 0TP ) where people may wish to congregate beforehand, and possibly get together after being at sea. 

Sea burial off the needles

Sea burial off the Needles

It takes roughly an hour and a half to sail to the designated area which is about 3 miles South of the Needles, at the Western extreme of the Isle of Wight. As the boat slows, we, (if pre-requested) play some music, often Elgars Nimrod. Then as we coast, Tennysons Crossing The Bar” is often read, a poem highly relevant to the ceremony.  It is made more so as the monument to Tennyson, on the South Western cliffs of the Isle of Wight, is usually visible to us out at sea.

This is normally followed by the traditional Maritime Committal speech for Burial at Sea. Immediately after the committal is the time to lay any wreaths or flowers on the water. The boat will circle around the point of committal, while we pause for thought and perhaps propose a toast to the deceased.

Our fees are surprisingly affordable. We will be happy to quote for collection from anywhere in the UK. We are funeral directors ourselves but quite understand that often there is a family tradition or association with your local funeral director who we will be happy to work with.

Many Funeral Directors are unaware of the procedure for a Burial at Sea, or, prefer to advise against, so please do feel free to contact us on 01395 568028. (That is the number of the Britannia Shipping Company, not the prepaid funeral review team, who can set up a plan in advance to facilitate burial at sea.)

BBC Report on Burial at Sea

Click the link.

Burial at sea in Scotland.

Contact the Burial, Cremation and Death Certification Team to find out about sea burials.

Burial, Cremation and Death Certification Team
Telephone: 0131 244 2711.