Burials at sea offer many meaningful ways to celebrate the lives of our loved ones. Captain Brad talks with Rob Hakala on The South Shore’s Morning News, WATD 95.9 FM.
Information about Ash Scattering and Burials at Sea by New England Burials at Sea founder and captain, Brad White.
Burials at sea offer many meaningful ways to celebrate the lives of our loved ones. Captain Brad talks with Rob Hakala on The South Shore’s Morning News, WATD 95.9 FM.
Reprinted with permission of Nomis Publications from:
FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Issue: February 2010
NORWOOD,MA— FINE Mortuary College, LLC: A Private Two Year College in Norwood, MA hosted a lecture, slideshow and examination of a model new pouch, the Atlantic Sea Shroud, for full body burials at sea. Captain Brad White of New England Burials at Sea explained that the new shroud was designed after examining records over 200 years old which described how the body was wrapped and weighted down. The students were fascinated that cannon balls made in Whitman, MA are currently used as the weights. Families and friends of the deceased can accompany the remains which can be ashes or full body on the ships which sail not only off the coast of New England but also down the middle Atlantic seaboard.
The names of three FINE students and Dean Marsha Wise were drawn from a hat and awarded prizes by Capt. White. The grand prize of a four hour fishingtrip went to David Midolo. Dean Wise and Louis Hebbelinck were given an unattended ash scattering which comes with photos journaled by Capt. White. Last, Christopher Voccia was awarded a $25 gift certificate for a lunch at a restaurant of his choosing.
New England Burials at Sea LLC.,
Now offers Vintage, Sport and Luxury Level Vessels
In their Fast-Growing Burial At Sea Business
MARSHFIELD, MA (February 14, 2012) – The nation’s most requested at sea burial service, New England Burial at Sea LLC (NEBAS) continues to expand and is now offering affordable, individualized and personal memorial ash scattering services and/or full body ocean burials from Maine to Florida and on the West Coast utilizing a selection of vintage, sport and luxury vessels according to client families’ preference.
Getting tipped overboard is just the beginning.
The gory—and fascinating—science of sleeping with the fishes.
05-09-01 – motherjones.com – By Dave Gilson
Last Monday, at around 11 in the morning local time, Osama Bin Laden’s body dropped from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson into the Arabian Sea. According to the Pentagon, the hours-old corpse had been washed and placed in a simple white sheet in accordance with Islamic practice. It was then sealed inside a weighted bag and laid on top of a board, which was tilted until “the body slid off into the sea.”
Back on land, the controversy surrounding Bin Laden’s last splash was just beginning. But beneath the waves, nature was taking its course, quietly and methodically turning the world’s most-wanted terrorist into fish food. You could say Osama bin Laden had received the ultimate green burial, courtesy of the United States Navy.
Obviously, the decision to consign Bin Laden to the deep was motivated by expedience rather than eco-friendliness. Seafarers from Odysseus to Ahab have long known that there’s no better way to quickly be rid of a corpse than to toss it overboard. But only recently has this salty custom been rediscovered as a relatively efficient way to be laid to rest with minimal environmental impact.
“I have noticed a great increase in interest in burial at sea,” says Ann Rodney, an environmental protection specialist in the New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ocean and coastal unit, which oversees burials in American waters. The agency doesn’t have hard data on how many Americans choose sea burial, but Rodney suspects the numbers, though small, are growing. “Ten years ago, I might get one or two calls a year about it. Now I get at least one call a week.”
If you’re intent on going into a watery grave, you’ll need to enlist someone like Brad White, a 52-year-old licensed ship captain who has been depositing bodies in the Atlantic since 2005. His company, New England Burials at Sea, based in Scituate Harbor, Massachusetts, does an average of six full-body burials a year and has 25 “pre-need” requests on the books. People who choose to be buried at sea, he says, “typically have a love for the ocean, do not want to be cremated, and prefer ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
They want to become part of the Earth again via our oceans.” To help them realize this, White offers burials that he says are not only historically authentic but environmentally sound. “About five or six years ago, someone kept asking me, ‘Can you do a full body?’, and I kept saying no, since I didn’t want to put a casket in the ocean.” He turned to nautical history for an alternative. Traditionally, 18th and 19th century American and British sailors who died at sea where wrapped in a sailcloth shroud with a few cannonballs or leg irons as ballast and then sent overboard. This inspired White to create the Atlantic Sea Burial Shroud, a canvas body bag that comes in seven colors, with your choice of piping or fringe. The shroud zips up, so there’s no need for the traditional final stitch sewn through the nose—a superstitious precaution meant to rouse the comatose. For ballast, White sells custom-made 37.5-pound cannonballs. “Barbell weights work well, too,” he says.
In 2007, a fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast pulled up the remains of a body that had been buried at sea six years earlier. Besides honoring nautical tradition, White says, a shrouded body has less impact than a corpse inside a coffin—the standard for the Navy, which offers full-body burials for veterans, provided the bodies are embalmed and sealed inside a metal casket with a few holes drilled in it. White prefers not to handle embalmed bodies. “We’re into clean waters and clean oceans,” he says. His system is designed to be as biodegradable as possible. Grommets in the shroud “help the body sink because air comes out. And when a body decomposes, body gases come out. It also allows sea life to go in and do what sea life does. What’s left after everything degrades are the cannonballs, and they make their own reef.”
Plus, White adds, “A Navy ship deploys a body from 10 stories high. We have a gentle deployment system that slides the body into the ocean. It drops maybe six inches to a foot.” (Bin Laden’s body reportedly fell from the hangar deck of the Vinson, which is about 55 feet above the waterline.)
Beyond cost—White’s full-body burial services start at $9,750—there’s little stopping you from visiting Davy Jones’ locker, though the EPA must be notified within 30 days of your final voyage. The agency’s main concern is that once sunk, bodies stay that way. Burials must take place at least three miles offshore and in at least 600 feet of water (1,800 feet in certain areas, such as the Gulf Coast). If you use a casket, the agency recommends drilling at least six three-inch holes in it to “facilitate rapid flooding and venting of air.” It also suggests adding four pounds of additional weight for every pound of body weight, which means the coffin for a 150-pound person would weigh more than 750 pounds. And to make sure coffins don’t pop open when they hit the water, the EPA advises wrapping them in stainless-steel chains, gift-box style.
The only nod to clean-water standards is a requirement that all wreaths or flowers tossed in the water must be “readily decomposable in the marine environment.” The EPA will get on your case if you dump formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, into a stream or lake, but it won’t blink if you put a body filled with formaldehyde-based embalming fluid into the Pacific Ocean. While there is no research on the effects of sunken bodies on ocean ecosystems, Rodney says that logic suggests it’s minimal. She cites the adage “dilution is the solution.” In other words, it’s a big ocean out there.
The rules for burial at sea are more stringent in the United Kingdom. Bodies can’t be embalmed and must be clad in biodegradable material (“commensurate with modesty”); coffins must be made of softwood and may not have plastic, zinc, copper, or lead fittings. Like the EPA, British regulators are preoccupied with preventing bodies from washing up on shore or getting snagged in fishing equipment. They require coffins to be heavily weighted and drilled with 40 to 50 holes. Just in case, each body must have an ID tag locked around its neck.
Though it is rare, bodies do occasionally resurface. Last September, a fisherman came across a floating corpse, naked except for a sock, a few miles off of Florida’s Atlantic coast. A brief homicide investigation revealed it belonged to a North Carolina man who’d been buried at sea a day earlier, wrapped in a plastic tarp. In 2007, a fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast pulled up the remains of a body that had been buried more than six years earlier.
Usually, the ocean does not give up the dead so easily. As he was developing his sea shroud, White did some of his own research into underwater decomposition, running trials with the bodies of various mammals. “We would use store-bought roast turkeys, chickens. Animal Control supplied us with roadkill foxes, possums, raccoons. We used a little bit of everything,” he recalls. He also consulted FBI forensic experts, who informed him that after two days in the water, most bodies are “unrecognizable.” White concluded that a body and a shroud on the sea floor should completely disintegrate within three to six months.
Results may vary depending on a burial spot’s depth, temperature, and its abundance (or lack) of sea life. Generally, the deeper and colder the water, the slower bodies decompose. A 2008 paper in Forensic Sciences described the differing conditions of remains retrieved from two airplane crashes in more than 1,500 feet of water. A victim discovered off of Sicily 34 days after death was still fully dressed; a three-month-old body found off the southern coast of Africa had been “fully skeletonized” by “highly efficient necrophageous lyssianassids” (i.e., flesh-eating shrimp-like creatures).
Another recent study that monitored pig carcasses submerged in approximately 300 feet of water found that hungry sea critters can have rapid and dramatic effects on the dead. Observing a subject known as “Pig 1,” researcher Gail Anderson wrote, “It immediately attracted a number of animals including squat lobsters, Dungeness crabs and spot shrimp. Two days after it was placed on the ocean floor, a large piece of tissue was removed from the rump…the bite mark left behind suggests that the culprit was a six-gill shark.”
Gory, but that’s what it means to sleep with the fishes. Capt. White speculates that Bin Laden’s body has met a similar fate. Considering that the Arabian Sea is warm (right now its average temperature is in the 80s) and teeming with sharks—well, he says, “Go figure.”
Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. (reprinted with permission) Original Article at:
MARSHFIELD,MA— Capt. Brad White, founder of New England Burials At Sea (NEBAS), now offers affordable, personal memorial ash scattering and full body burials at sea services from Maine to Miami. Recognized by the EPA, US Navy, USCG and many area funeral homes and crematories, New England Burials At Sea is also building a network of approved and Quali-fied Sea Burial Certified™ captains on the east and west coast of the USA.
The service takes up to 400 people three miles off shore (25-75 miles off shore for a full body committal) on an inspected vessel for private ash scatterings by a licensed U.S. Coast Guard Captain, along with selected clergy if desired, to respectfully attend to a loved one’s final wishes. The company ensures a loved one a fi nal resting place at sea, while relieving family of significant financial burdens in their time of distress.
NEBAS offers year round, cost effective, attended or unattended traditional ash scattering memorial cruises and complete full body eco friendly sea burials. Sea burials are performed casket-free using an organic shroud, and per USCG regulations, presided over by the captain as well as a funeral director for full body committals.
The company uses 28 different vessels from 30’ to 115’ for up to 400 passengers from Maine to Miami. All vessels are clean, current and have the latest safety gear. Vintage vessels dating back to 1935 are also available for the nostalgia crowd. “Mainers like lobster boats for their final ride,” said Capt. White
Captain Brad White has been navigating Massachusetts Bay for more than four decades. He has U.S. Coast Guard certifications in RADAR, GPS, Auxiliary sail, towing,SCUBA, CPR, First Aid and Rescue and Sea Survival. He is USCG licensed, insured, based out of Marshfield, MA andhandles the east coast with approved contract affiliates in other parts of the USA.
The trained crew conducts a dignified and well planned memorial service that can becustomized to specific needs, wishes, religion or taste. If preferred, a family member or other designated person may conduct all or part of the ceremony. Ocean friendly wreaths, florals,catering, music, poems, readings, prayers, bagpipers, Taps, military cadre and other options are also available.
At the close of the service, loved ones receive a commemorative distinguished keepsake burial certificate, indicating the date, time, depth and exact latitude and longitude of the ceremony so that area can be visited at a later date.
Requests can be accommodated within 24-48 hours,depending on the weather or season. The service maybe attended or unattended and viewed from the shore. Photography of the service is also available as well as alive video feed that can be simulcast worldwide to family members not able to attend. They can easily log on from anywhere in the world to watch the event.
Burying people at sea since 2006, White has been impressed by very steady growth. He now offers a tuition reimbursement program to interested seasoned mariners who need to acquire their required captain’s credentials for immediate employment into this growing business.“Cremations across the USA will top 60% nationwidein 2020,” said White. “And where will all those cremated remains end up? People prefer the ocean as they can always visit the water and see their loved one.”
“Themed events from Grateful Dead sing-alongs to Irish wakes, Viking burial requests as well as star studded sea burials happen frequently,” said Captain White.Burial At Sea scattering of ashes service are also availablefor beloved pets. The company has hosted eventsfor 400 passengers with full food, band and planningand some groups have seen their family member off complete with a hail of ship’s cannon fire, farewell horns, bagpipers and floral champagne toasts.
Captain White mentioned, “We have seen an incredible up surge in families who want a true “green” ocean burial where their deceased family member may have had an affinity to the sea. Some families don’t want their loved one to be embalmed and truly want a naturalat sea burial service. Many people come home to the sea from their retirement homes,” added White.“Typically, people say, ‘I did not know you could legally do this,’ and want to know where to find the services or how to plan it,” said White.
Full body burials at sea use the company’s exclusive organic Atlantic Sea Burial Shroud which is hand tailoredby size and color by US Navy veterans on demand andthey are weighted down with 150 lbs. of official cannonballs smelted by the same maker of cannon balls for America’s oldest commissioned warship, Old Ironsides. For more information, visit the website at www.NewEnglandBurialsAtSea.com
or contact New England Burials At Sea LLC,
Toll Free: (877) 897-7700 or (781)834-0112,
cell: (617) 966.1986 or
via email Ocean-Burial@aol.com.
New England Burials at Sea is now offering Full Body Burials at Sea. There are many Coast Guard and EPA rules and regulations that must be followed with a full casket burial. With the help of your local funeral home, New England Burials at Sea can help make this process as worry-free as possible.
We also offer a traditional maritime weighted-canvas burial shroud as a more eco-friendly and affordable option to regular caskets which must also be specially prepared by a funeral before hand.
Please visit our Full Body Burial at Sea page on our website or feel fee to contact me for any information.
New England Burials at Sea is now offering year-round services for ash scatterings at sea, and full body burials at sea in selected areas. Because of seasonal considerations, the rates may be slightly higher, but the same respectful, and memorable services will be provided. Please contact me if you have any questions about.
Burial at sea is not just a tradition that was practiced by the Navy of old. It is a means of final disposition of cremains or intact remains that is offered to and still utilized by active duty, retired, and honorable veterans of all branches of the United States military.
Military Burial at sea services are performed while the vessel is on official deployment maneuvers. Therefore, it is not possible for the family or civilians to be present.
The family will be notified by the commanding officer of that vessel of the date time, longitude, and latitude of the committal service. You can contact the US Government Military Affairs for details. We can also consult and assist during your time of need if you wish.
What to be careful of in selecting a burial at sea provider:
New England Burials at Sea LLC is a licensed and insured company who owns and sub leases vessels from Maine to Miami for 1 – 400 passengers for at sea burial events.
We have worked with hundreds of families over the years and understand the stress and grief involved in planning a loved one’s final farewell. We have learned to share the following FAQ’s with families to assist them in their planning. We operate year round and this is all that we do. We focus on all of the sea planning details so you can spend important time with your family. We are pleased to send references on request.
Why choose us?
We offer the complete captain’s sea tribute service that we are well known for nationwide.
We run the event with you, not leaving you to fend for your self with wind and tide.
We are properly insured for actual sea burials – other charter operators are not.
We offer on board photography—ask us for a sample link or DVD to see how our events are run.
We use uniformed crew who are trained in these events.
We offer free refreshments.
We have a library of over 1,250 musical songs and over 100 poems / readings.
We file for and take care of all the required State and federal EPA sea burial permitting for you and the decedent’s estate.
As a Ship’s gift to your family, we fly and present a custom 8-Bell Burgee,
that is flown on the vessel during the sea burial and presented to the family by the captain on vessel disembarkation.
We offer Military honors and a document locator service if needed for the DD-214
We have nationwide net work of sea burial certified funeral homes from which to choose from if necessary
We donate to the US Coast guard foundation and the Nature conservancy supporting our nation’s oceans and beauty.
We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
“My brother’s friend has a lobster boat he can take us out on”…We do hear this innocent comment all the time. While it may sound convenient and inexpensive, ask these questions before you sign up. Is the owner operator a licensed USCG captain? Have they done it before? Are they insured for charters and for burying people at sea? Do they have liability insurance? Is the boat clean or does it have a lot of green head fly’s buzzing around due to rancid baits? Do they have a head aboard? Do they have proper seating for passengers? Do they know the laws? Do they report scatterings to the EPA? Does the EPA know them as a reputable provider? Do they have the required safety equipment for a charter? Have they been recently boarded by the US Coast Guard for a safety check? Are all of the vessel’s boats papers in order for documentation, life raft certifications, EIRPB’s and more up to date? Crew drug testing up to date?
Clients tell us that they want the most important last memory of their loved one not to be a nightmare but one of smiles and good tears.
Your burial at sea experience for your loved one needs to be conducted as professional as possible and there are hundreds of details to attend to. You want to remember the beauty of the moment versus the leaky deck or odiferous boat ride while sitting on a five gallon pail top. We have seen it all and many clients come to us after they ask the above questions.
What to be careful of in selecting a burial at sea provider: Stay away from boat brokers who simply act as the facilitator to put a buyer (you) and seller (Boat charter) together to make a transaction happen no matter what the required cultural formality, legality or requested family wishes and details may be. Brokers are a dime a dozen. They can be ruthless to just “get the order.” Be careful and wary of the “low ball” boat brokers who will not actually participate in your actual event at sea. They are just there to sell vessel time and are most probably not properly licensed and insured to actually run your event, nor do they want to. Brokers do not discuss your family needs or conduct your actual sea tribute. When an event is not timed properly and you use more vessel time than you need you might be surprised to get back to the dock and be presented with an additional invoice for $600+ or more for unplanned “Sea time”. They do not file the proper permits as required by Federal and State law. No warranty, no guarantee, nothing in the way of client family support. You typically show up at the dock and the broker simply points you to your vessel. Brokers just book the boat and are done with it once the payment clears. They can be nice as pie when you inquire about a booking but do nothing in the way of putting together your sea burial tribute together and we mean nothing. This is especially problematic during an actual at sea ash scatterings when the vessel may not be positioned properly because there are no experienced people aboard running the event and that can result in “ash blow back” or the “station wagon effect” when Uncle Chuck’s cremated remains become airborne and flow back up to the boat deck or stick to your sweater. And what if someone drops or prematurely spills the urn—are they insured for that? No. If you are seeking a full body burial at sea is the broker going to follow the very strict US Navy guidelines required or the many hours of planning time between funeral home, family, church, vessel and crew? Most probably not
Why we do what we do at New England Burials At Sea LLC
First, we handle all of the details as this is our full time business. We are the experts. We help you plan your event during your difficult time of need. We have the vessel and crew ready, equipped, clean and welcoming to your group when you board. We are recognized by the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the EPA. We are recommended by and used by hundreds of funeral homes across America. Having been approved by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice in –Westerville, OH, we train funeral directors in continuing education in class room settings on the proper procedures during sea burials. Plain and simple we are the go to company for sea burials.
Our company operates year round providing cost effective, attended or unattended traditional ash scattering memorial cruises and complete full bodycasket free sea burials using our eco friendly burial shroud per USCG regulations, presided over by the captain and a funeral director for full body committals, serving all faiths with personalized services.
For ash scatterings, we voyage out three nautical miles, scatter ashes with a customized sea tribute service and return to port. All sea burials include an official parchment sea burial certificate marking the latitude and longitude of your final resting place. We now use 31 different vessels from 30’ to 115’ for up to 400 passengers from Maine to Miami. All vessels are clean, current and have the latest safety gear.
We include waters and sodas. Your family is welcome to bring munchies and beer and wine if you wish(if the vessel does not have a cash bar aboard). We also have very nice box lunch catering available. You can do your own photography or we can provide. We are very flexible.
A 50% deposit books your day and time. We accept all credit card and personal checks or money orders.
The price includes, the vessel, fuel, taxes, soft drinks, up to three hrs portal to portalthe steering captain and our services for the sea tributearrangements, six signed and sealed burial certificates, filing with the EPA, a suggested order of service and an “e book” of poems and readings you might like to look through and consider for your sea tribute. We also include an eight-bell end of watch blessing & ship’s horn farewell while circling the ocean flower field after the scattering. While planning, please take advantage of our no cost in house concierge service that can assist with hotel, dining, flowers, city and airport transportation services.
The price does not include optional food, flowers, urns, parking, or music.
Options for slight additional cost: Taps or favorite song(s) or both, Door to shore livery service, simulcasting world wide with internet logins (summer 2011) , water urns, bag pipers, extra certificates, catering, 10 GA cannon Salute send off $15.00, Single flower $5.00, Plump rose petals $75, select hand picked Sea Flowers $100, Ocean Friendly Sea Wreath $145.00. Bagpiper for 2 hours $300 (Abundant “tune” library), custom nautical memory chart™ (11” x 14”) an official NOAA Nautical chart of the exact area showing committal location $100, Sea Memory Bottles™$15 each. Photo show with music up to 75 candid’s create a 3-5 minute long photo show with online access taken by a professional photographer $475.00 with optional reprints available. Ask about our new 8 Bell Burgee Program.
1. What type of boat is being used for your size of family?
2. Is it USCG approved with all the required safety equipment?
3. Are the licensed Coast Guard Captains that are performing your service current with their certifications? Ask for a current copy of their USCG License if you are unsure.
4. Is the Sea Burial business recognized by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as a responsible business in filing all required paperwork on a timely basis?
5. Does the Sea Burial business work closely with your funeral home or crematory as needed for no extra charge?
6. Does the service have a reference list available of current clients that you can speak with?
7. Will the burial at sea service perform your service at your geographic location of choice?
8. Does the sea burial business perform the sea burial within 48 hours if asked (weather permitting) versus other services taking up to 30 days?
9. Is there someone at the toll free # during business hours when you call or just an answering machine?
10. Is the service member in good standing of the Local Chamber of Commerce or other nationally recognized group or agency?
11. Does the Burial at sea services complete all of your permits and filings for you?
12. Does the sea burial service offer a “Door to shore®” livery service if needed?
13. Is the sea burial business properly insured on land as well as at sea?
New England Burials At Sea LLC provides all of the above and more.
Trust us as hundreds of families do each year—we guarantee it.
Ask to see what the Boston Globe and TV program Chronicle recently said about us.
We also have a DVD that shows interviews with our founding captain, client families, The Boston Globe and more.
Call us today toll free at (877) 897.7700 or email OceanBurial@aol.com, for your burial at sea “free” info pack.
Thank you for considering our service offerings.
Captain Brad White