Follow in the footsteps of famous Royal Navy Admirals and be buried at sea

Those of a nautical bent, apply here

The cemeteries are full.  Cremation pollutes.  If you could, would you like to your body be disposed of in the truly old-fashioned way, at sea?

Famous men in the drink

Sir Francis Drake, Capt. James Cook, Admiral Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, Admiral William Cornwallis, Sir Admiral John Hawkins to name but six famous men whose mortal remains were committed to the deep, in various locations around the world as Gt. Britain fought to establish its mastery of the seas.

More to the point

Anybody can request a burial at sea today off the coast of UK . But first, you need certain things.

Where but, not just anywhere

Some burials at sea may be suitable for self-service marine licensing.

To qualify for self-service, the intended place of burial must be one of the following locations:

  • off The Needles, Isle of Wight
  • between Hastings and Newhaven
  • off Tynemouth, North Tyneside

and you must have:

  • a death certificate
  • a Certificate of Freedom from Fever and Infection (available from the deceased person’s GP or hospital doctor)
  • a Notice to a Coroner of Intention to Remove a Body out of England (available from the coroner in exchange for a Certificate of Disposal provided by the registrar)

Marine Licence

To check to see if you qualify or to apply for a self-service licence use the MMO’s interactive assistance tool

If you wish to apply for burial at sea at a location in England or the Northern Irish offshore area that is different to those set out you can still apply for a licence but you should be aware you might also have to provide evidence your proposed burial location is suitable. Things like water depth, currents, pipelines, and fishing will be considered.

All applications are published on the public register of marine licence applications and decisions

Burials must take place within 3 months of the date the licence is granted.

Death Certificate

Make sure you possess the death certificate.  Then off you go.

A licence from the Marine Management Organisation for burial at sea in England and Northern Ireland will set back your Estate £50.

License Fee for a burial at sea in England

For burials at sea in inshore and offshore areas of Wales you will need a licence from Natural Resources Wales.

For burials at sea in Scotland contact the Burial, Cremation and Death Certification team:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone: 0131 244 2711

Yes, there are regulations

There are strict rules for this procedure but, they are not insurmountable, if you have a boat, of course.  You must make sure the coffin is built correctly.

You must also make sure that the body of the deceased:

  • is not embalmed
  • is lightly dressed in biodegradable material
  • has a durable identification tag with the details of the funeral company

A coffin, but not just any old coffin 

Basically, one that is strong enough to bear the shock of impact into the sea and heavy enough that it will stay firmly on the seabed for a long time.  Nobody wants the body to break free and float to the surface.

The body and coffin may be inspected before the burial by the MMO

How is it made?

So, the coffin must be made of solid softwood and must not contain any plastic, lead, copper, or zinc. It must have:

  • between 40 and 50 50mm (2 inch) holes drilled throughout
  • corners butt-jointed and strengthened with mild steel right angle brackets screwed internally, or substantial wooden bracing struts 50 x 38mm
  • about 200kg of iron, steel or concrete clamped to the base of the coffin with brackets of 10mm mild steel bar, or blocks of weak concrete mix
  • weight distributed evenly to prevent the coffin from turning to the vertical
  • 2 long mild steel bands running from the top to the bottom of the coffin
  • several mild steel bands across the coffin at about 30cm intervals along its length

The coffin and any inner box or liner must be made from natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable materials. They must both be able to withstand any impact and be able to carry the body quickly to the seabed.

A dead weight

If you add the weight of the occupant, you have a formidable total dead weight of coffin with weights and strapping of some 300kgs plus of course the body at another 75 – 100+ kgs.

That little lot is pushing to a third of a ton or more. You therefore need a vessel large enough to receive the coffin with a flat area of deck.  And a dock with a small crane.

On-board

We operate from a convenient port with all the necessary facilities close to the designated area south of The Needles, Isle of Wight.

Seasickness

You should enquire who is not a good sailor in your family and provide anti-seasickness pills.

Refreshment

Naturally, appropriate refreshment to drink the health of the dear late departed soul following the committal (or earlier)  A hip flask is also obligatory.  Fill it with the favourite tipple of the deceased and raise it as they are committed over the side.

Clergy

You may read the order of committal yourself and add any private prayers.  Or you may delegate your own vicar or member of the clergy to do the job for you.

Lament

For mourners of a romantic nature you could invite a Piper to join on board and play Lord Lovatt’s “The Last Lament” or “Will Ye No Come Back Again” or perhaps “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.  A full repertoire is available from Go Direct Cremations

Keep Warm

It goes without saying that you must dress appropriately and keep warm and dry on board, if the weather is rough.  

Floral tributes

The perfect way to end the formal proceedings.  A bouquet of favourite flowers or their petals.  A wreath also?

Go Direct Cremations

Go Direct Cremations will, of course take care of the whole procedure.  The large yacht we use has room for up to ten mourners and a Priest, if desired.  It is crewed by a professional skipper and a qualified deckhand.  Point of joining ship is Lymington, Hants.

COVID-19: guidance for arranging or attending funerals during the coronavirus pandemic

During COVID19 it is not possible to conduct funerals and cremations as before. Attendance at funerals either in church or at a crematorium is limited to 25 persons.

"GoDirectCremations were a lifesaver. Well, not quite. I can't tell you how helpful GoDirectCremations were after my father died. I'd never had to do any "death admin" before and, frankly, didn't know where to start. GoDirectCremations managed the whole thing: transport from the care home, certificates, cremation and final delivery of the ashes. They kept me informed every step of the way. I always knew what was happening and what would happen next. It was probably the most stress free part of the whole process. My father always said he wanted a no-nonsense funeral. GoDirectCremations were able to provide that and dealing with them meant I could spend more time helping my children come to terms with our loss and more time with my father's friends, which I know would have been important to him. Now we have the ashes, we are able to plan a more relaxed thanksgiving ceremony at a time of our choosing. I couldn't recommend GoDirectCremations enough" Ewan McCowen


Futher reading

Funerals direct with simple cremation and low cost

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