Main content

Bury Me at Sea

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss how to be buried at sea and where the idea came from.

Although many people who have been buried at sea were sailors or navy personnel, anyone can have their body committed to the deep.

Few people choose the sea as their final resting place but, for those that do, there is a small band of funeral directors, skippers and coffin makers around the country who know how it's done.

A body can't be buried anywhere. There are designated sites around the country and a license is required to protect human health and the marine environment.

The Marine Maritime Organisation issues licences for burials in England. Applicants must supply a doctor's certificate to confirm that the body is free from infection and fever. It cannot be embalmed, must be lightly dressed in biodegradable clothing and tagged with durable ID.

The sea coffin itself looks a bit like a treasure chest. Built to withstand impact and to ensure it drops swiftly to the seabed, two hundred kilograms of iron, steel and concrete is strapped around the coffin and clamped to its base. To aid its sinking, dozens of holes are drilled into its softwood surface to let the seawater rush in.

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss this little known mode of burial and explore how our naval history has shaped modern day practice. Joan also gets some tips on the best way to scatter ashes at sea.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Sat 30 Dec 2017 22:15

More episodes

Next

You are at the last episode

See all episodes from We Need to Talk About Death

The Panel

Dr Laura Rose, Senior Lecturer in Naval History at Exeter University

Paul Williams, Funeral Director in Manchester

John McKenzie who runs a boating business in Chester including burials at sea

Contact the programme

If there’s something you’re confused about on the subject of death and dying, just one question you’d like us to explore, please email your question to us here

Broadcasts

Find all episodes

Find all episodes

Select and listen to episodes of We Need to Talk About Death

Podcast