QUESTIONS & ANSWERS...
do I get started?
The first step is to contact your local funeral home for immediate or pre-need arrangements. If you don't have a funeral home relationship, call Maritime Burials and we will offer assistance. However, please understand we cannot guarantee your funeral home experience through endorsement or reference.
2. What type of Casket is required?
Any standard 18/20 gauge metal casket purchased through a funeral home is suitable. For shrouded burials, the purchase of a casket is not necessary... see "#5 How are Shrouded Burials preformed".
3. How is the Casket Prepared?
All preparation of the casket for sea burial will be performed by Maritime Burials staff at a local funeral home; generally on the night prior to burial. The body will be respectfully covered by a sheet during this preparation. The casket will be drilled with 20 2” holes and ballasted with weight at the foot. Aside from the pillow and mattress, all accessible interior material/panels will be removed and the casket will be closed and banded (with 4 horizontal and one vertical). From this point the casket will remain covered all the way through the burial process.
4. How does the burial/deployment take place?
Our boat "Affirmation", is uniquely equipped and crewed with 3 operators for a dignified deployment. The covered casket rides on a customized marine grade stainless platform. Upon arrival at the burial location, the casket is attached to rigging and turned (feet first) for deployment. Upon the completion of a ceremony on family boat (if employed) the deceased name is announced and the vessels bell will ring the maritime traditional, “Changing of the Guard” (4, 2 succession rings totaling 8). The platform is then tilted allowing the casket to be slowly lowered below the water. Once completely submerged, the casket is released and allowed to descend free from the cover permanently to the ocean floor.
5. How are Shrouded Burials preformed?
All preparation for a shrouded burial will be performed by Maritime Burials staff at a local funeral home; generally on the night prior to burial. The body is securely wrapped in natural 10oz Cotton Sail Canvas (duck cloth) along with weight at the feet. The exterior is crisscrossed with 1" cotton banding or natural sisal cord to secure the sail cloth. Once wrapped, the body is placed in modified rental casket that is used for transportation and deployment.
6. Where will the burial take place?
The requirements for full body (non-cremated) burial at sea must take place in approved Federal Waters (at least 3 miles off shore) at 600 ft. (100 fathoms) depth or more. Maritime Burials provides burial off of the Long Beach coast approximately 6 miles due south of Palos Verde Peninsula. We can accommodate burials off of Newport Beach for an additional fee.
7. Can burial be attended by family or group for a memorial service?
Yes. However, Maritime Burials boat “Affirmation” acts as the hearse and is specifically equipped and crewed for deployment only. Attended services require a separate charter boat to accompany and observe the burial. Most common charter boats are licensed for six passengers. Larger boats can be chartered for your particular needs. We help target your family’s specific needs by avoiding excessive costs as compared to a one-size-fits-all approach.
8. What is the progression of an attended service?
Departure from Long Beach or Newport Beach, generally takes place around 8:30am (sea conditions are generally better in the morning). The charter boat (family boat) will generally meet “Affirmation” at Angels Gate (Los Angeles port Light House) and accompany her to the burial location. Once there, the boats will align toward the swell with the family boat looking on. The casket will be readied for deployment at which time crew members will stand at attention for dedication or service. Upon the conclusion of a reading or service on the family boat, deployment will commence along with the ringing of the bell “Changing of the Guard”. At this time, flowers will be tossed on the water marking the exact spot of interment and the family boat will move in close to allow attendees to toss additional flowers or wreaths. The family boat will circle the floating flowers as a farewell and then return to shore. The total voyage generally takes approximately 3 hours depending upon which port and subsequent inner-harbor travel time is involved.
9. What happens if the weather or sea conditions are bad?
There are innumerable logistics involved in planning and properly executing a full-body burial at sea... advanced boat preparation, crew reservations, funeral home schedule, delivery of the deceased to the boat, loading etc. Arrangements for burial will be scheduled for forecasted good weather. However, ocean conditions can be unpredictable and evolve at a moment’s notice. Weather permitting, burial will take place regardless if the accompanying charter boat captain decides to postpone or turn back due to rough seas or passenger discomfort due to sea sickness. In this case, the family boat can still go to the exact burial coordinates for ceremonial purposes at a later date. Charters for burial accompaniment will be accommodated as much as possible, but cannot be guaranteed by Maritime Burials or your funeral provider.
10. Aside from attending burial at sea, what are some other options?
Some families prefer not to attend the burial and observe final closure with a traditional service at the funeral home chapel or at their place of worship. We highly recommend a shore side, vista point gathering at Point Fermin Lighthouse, White Point State Park or the park grounds at the Korean Bell of Friendship. All these locations are public parks located along the south facing beach and bluffs in San Pedro, CA. These locations provide serene, breathtaking panoramic south facing ocean views overlooking the burial location. We can coordinate the burial deployment to coincide with a shore side service/gathering.
11. What about Veteran burial with Navy?
The Navy will provide full-body burials at sea free of charge as a service for honorably discharged or deceased active duty veterans. However, it can take up to a year to assign the deceased with a deployed vessel. The Navy contracts with a San Diego funeral home to store the body, prepare and deliver the casketed remains. These costs can vary significantly. Many veteran families choose to witness Military Honors performed at their local funeral home or place of worship and then employ Maritime Burials to perform the burial at sea. We proudly serve veteran families and deceased veterans with the utmost respect and drape the casket with the American Flag throughout our transfers and to the ocean gravesite.