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Friday, November 15, 2013

Burials At Sea


A story about a mystery photo left at the Navy Memorial earlier this year has been making the rounds in Facebook, and it got me to thinking about the time-honored tradition of Burial At Sea. While sometimes we might look at the tasking with a certain amount of maudlin humor (on Topeka, we once had a wind direction/head valve not closed issue where some of the ashes from a Bridge ceremony were sucked back into the boat, and we blamed any subsequent intermittent equipment faults on a haunting for the next couple of years), I generally felt honored to take part in the ceremonies committing a Sailor's remains to the deep.

How do you feel about taking part in old Naval traditions?

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want my ashes shot out with a water slug.

11/15/2013 12:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

drop my ash jar into a tdu can so i can rest on the bottom.

11/15/2013 1:08 PM

 
Blogger robbie said...

As a ex-A-ganger of the Sturgeon, I would have considered it an honor to have been sucked backed in the boat thru the head valve. While snorkeling. Whilst doing the LP safety cut-out check of the Diesel. With doing a LP blow. With a CO2 burner running. With a 2 compressor air charge (aka as packing air on 2) to all 5 banks. While blowing #2 san overboard. All simultaneously. After ceremony, shoot container out the TDU. Dry or wet, would be choice of A-Gang Chief. Would make for a great Qual question of "Where's Robbie" at any given moment.

11/15/2013 1:15 PM

 
Anonymous Cupojoe said...

I saw an incident where the ashes got wet and congealed in the urn. The XO was topside with a leatherman trying to chip the ashes apart. He ended up just throwing the urn into the water, ashes and all.

11/15/2013 1:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a skimmer XO it was critical to get the relative wind just right or the swirling air currents around the quarterdeck would bring the dearly departed back to the mourners onboard. On one such occasion the presiding devil-dodger turned away from the ensign staff, empty urn in hand, and with his hand to his face declared to the audience that 'Commander Smith just got up my nose'.

11/15/2013 3:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Participated in one burial at sea on the old Bainbridge for a plank owner. The XO was reading the procedure to us, when he got to "if the casket does not sink promptly it must be recovered and another attempt made after taking action to render the casket less buoyant, it is inappropriate to use the ships guns to sink the casket" you know it's only in there because someone, somewhere in the past did. We all burst out laughing.

11/15/2013 5:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd want my remains sucked up through the galley exhaust and into the precipitator.

PW

11/15/2013 10:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Took a retired TMC's remains to sea with us on deployment. For a variety of reasons, the ceremony kept getting delayed. Anyway, Robert had a dedicated spot in the Chief's Quarters.

Bob would do everything with us. He would pick the movie, help with field day, and picked the JSOQ. And, although Bob was a Diesel Boat Sailor, he quickly got qualified on a 688. In fact, somebody out there has Bob's signature on their qual card!

One thing about Bob, he hated nucs. Him and the bull nuc got into one night...it was not pretty.

Bob was a trooper. He signed his non-disclosure statement while on spec op. His advice to the ACINT rider was spot on. Bob had his picture taken with a _____ in the background while we were off of ______ in the Sea of ______.

Bob was finally put to rest off of Diamond Head in October 1992.

I am proud to call him a shipmate!

Jim C.
Retired ANAV
USS Chicago

Ps. See Chicago's Command History for 1992 to see some of the awesome port visits Bob had.

Anyway

11/16/2013 4:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did a burial at sea while running our temperamental diesel to meet a PM, which was spitting black goo out of the exhaust manifold. When the ashes were committed to the sea from the bridge, the wind kicked them back into the sail and they stuck to the aforementioned goo. It was decided to submerge and let the sea take care of it. The urn became a pencil/pen holder in the XOs stateroom.

11/16/2013 7:41 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the Vinson, wee hosted numerous burials at sea of EL 4. One relative came to the bridge asking if his underway ensign could be flown while services were being rendered. I agreed but informed him since it is a cotton flag, it may not last long at the masthead. Within 30 seconds of it being hoisted it started shredding and we hauled it back down.

11/17/2013 6:41 AM

 
Blogger Scott Minium said...

I conducted three of these as XO on Tennessee (G). Even did a rifle salute with three men topside. It was an interesting thing to do, and definitely easier on a BN than an SSN. Most interesting memory from that was teaching the manual of arms to the TMs. Think 'Army training Sir!' and you'll be in the right place.

11/20/2013 2:31 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Except for Scott Minium's, more than a few of the above anecdotes dispel dignity connected with at sea burials on subs. While not an actual burial nor scattering of ashes, this shows how it can be done with finesse."Submarine PELOSI - Commemoration fallen submariners"

11/20/2013 12:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was one FF which was doing the "spreading the ashes" part of the ceremony when a gust of errant wind blew part of the departed senior chief over the fantail.

The XO ordered that he bem washed overboard with a fire hose.

11/20/2013 12:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, since Bubblehead is due to post a new topic today and there have been several skimmer comments above, submariners may be more interested in
why the obvious distinction can make a big difference.

11/20/2013 1:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must have been 1978. BONEFISH was doing a S2L in the Hawaiian local Op Areas. We were called in unexpectedly for a real burial at sea. COMSUBPAC's Chief of Staff (can't for the life of me remember his name) had passed away. He was in receipt of PCS orders and his wife had already left the Islands. She requested a burial at sea and we were the easy boat. Subase welded a casket holder to our deck and we got underway with the 6 SUBPAC Deputies onboard as pallbearers. Commitment was off Diamond Head in (thankfully) calm seas.

11/21/2013 10:31 AM

 
Anonymous William said...

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11/26/2013 1:18 PM

 
Anonymous SparkyWT said...

Re anon @ 11/21/2013 1031:
COMSUBPAC's COS better half sounds like she was running and wanted a quick disposal of the body (evidence). was the poor SOB at room temperature when you floated him viking style?

11/26/2013 6:13 PM

 
Anonymous Serving Nav said...

When I was a JO I had the distict honor of conducting two burials at sea under the polar ice via waterslug. One was fittingly a retired submarine TMC, and the other was the Navigator of Triton when she circumnavigated the globe. Good karma in navigation & weapons has followed me since.

- Serving Nav

1/05/2014 8:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prior to starting a patrol around the turn of the century, on USS MAINE, we performed a burial at sea off the coast of Port Canaveral from the bridge with the bridge party in dress blues. The wind shifted and the CO, XO, COB, TM2 (rifleman) were covered in ashes. They got to shower but their dress blues remained "soiled" until we returned from patrol a couple of months later.

- Leading YN

2/12/2014 4:32 PM

 

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