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Burial at Sea

The Navy Mortuary Branch within the Navy Casualty Assistance Division ensures prompt and uniform death benefits are provided to all Navy beneficiaries worldwide. Included as beneficiaries are those missing/killed in previous conflicts such as Southeast Asia, Korea, WWII and Vietnam who have been recovered and identified. In addition, the Navy Mortuary staff coordinates the Navy's Burial-At-Sea program.

Navy Morticians (both military and civilian) are assigned to Navy Casualty with duty locations at BUPERS in Millington, TN, Dover Port Mortuary at Dover AFB, DE and USMC Casualty Branch at Quantico, VA.

Active Duty/Activated Reserve Deaths
Morticians coordinate funeral preparations via the Navy Contracting Officers and Funeral Directors worldwide. Together, they negotiate funeral arrangements and contract charges in order to expedite the shipment of remains. Funeral contracts provide primary care benefits for deceased active duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Active duty personnel are also entitled to secondary funeral expense reimbursements and transportation reimbursement when remains are moved from place of death to place of burial.

When the death of a dependent residing with an active duty member stationed OCONUS occurs, entitlements for preparation and transportation of remains are provided. For dependents of active duty service members serving CONUS, only transportation of remains is provided.

Deceased retirees and their dependents are entitled to transportation only when they pass away in a military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), such as National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, MD or Naval Medical Center San Diego, CA.

Civilian Employees
Civilian employees, who pass away while on official orders away from their normal duty station, are provided transportation of remains only.

NAVPERS 15555D - Navy Military Funerals
NAVPERS 15956D - Naval Funerals at Arlington National Cemetery

Burial at Sea is a means of final disposition of remains that is performed on United States Navy vessels. The committal ceremony is performed while the ship is deployed. Therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time, and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.

Individuals eligible for this program are: (1) active duty members of the uniformed services; (2) retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged. (3) U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and (4) dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.

How to get started
After the death of the individual for whom the request for Burial at Sea is being made, the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (PADD) should contact the Navy and Marine Corps Mortuary Affairs office at 1-866-787-0081 to request a packet and for additional information.

Supporting documents which must accompany this request are:

  1. a photocopy of the death certificate
  2. the burial transit permit or the cremation certificate
  3. a copy of the DD Form 214, discharge certificate, or retirement order.
The Burial at Sea Request Form and the three supporting documents listed above make up the Burial at Sea Request package.

Burial Flag
A Burial Flag is required for all committal services performed aboard United States Naval vessels, except family members, who are not authorized a burial flag. Following the services at sea, the flag that accompanied the cremains/remains will be returned to the PADD. If the PADD does not wish to send a burial flag for the service, a flag will be provided by the Navy for the committal service, but will not be sent to the PADD.

Cremated Remains (Cremains)
Cremains must be in an urn or temporary container (preferably Bio-degradable) to prevent spillage in shipping. Recent changes in law prohibit the discharge of plastics at sea. Families are encouraged to have the cremains inurned directly, or transferred to a sturdy biodegradable urn at their local funeral home to facilitate burial at sea. Burial at Sea Coordinators at the ports of embarkation are available to field any questions regarding the urns. The cremains, along with the completed Burial at Sea Request package should be forwarded to the Burial at Sea Coordinator at the desired port of embarkation (listed below). Prior to shipment, it is recommended that a phone call be made informing the coordinator of the pending request. ONLY Priority Mail Express Service is authorized when shipping cremains and it is recommended that that Tracking and Signature On Delivery is used to ensure the package is delivered to the correct individual in a timely manner.

Intact Remains (Casketed)
Specific guidelines are required for the preparation of casketed remains. All expenses incurred in this process are the responsibility of the PADD, who will select a funeral home in the area of the port of embarkation. After this selection has been made and notification has been provided to the coordinator, the casketed remains, the request form, supporting documents, and the burial flag are to be forwarded to the receiving funeral home. The coordinator will make the inspection and complete the checklist for the preparation of casketed remains. It is


Mortuary Service death benefits are defined as follows

Primary Care
Removal from place of death, preparation (dressing and cosmetics), selection of casket (metal or wood), uniform preparation, cremation and urn (metal or wood), shipment of remains to place of services, and shipment of remains to place of burial under military escort.

Secondary Care
Funeral home charges, grave space and opening, vault, memorial items, obituaries, flowers, etc., arranged via the PADD (Person Authorized to Direct Disposition) and/or Next of Kin (NOK).  The VA provides cemetery markers (VA form 40-1330). Families requesting VA markers and headstones must  ensure before ordering if the cemetery accept VA headstones and markers. Any questions regarding monetary reimbursements for funeral and cemetery expenses should be referred to Navy Mortuary at 1-866-787-0081.

Transportation of remains
Removal from place of death and delivery to final resting place. All costs are paid for remains of active duty, activated reservist,  dependents, and civilian employees on official orders away from their normal duty station.  Expenses included are commercial air transportation, shipping container, and embassy fees if shipping to or from another country.  For retirees and their dependents, the service member’s death must have occurred as an inpatient in a Military Treatment Facility (MTF’s), specifically, Navy, Army, or Air Force hospitals.  Payment is limited to removal from hospital and transportation to final place of burial. Airfare charges, shipping container, and hearse fees for transportation, are examples of such reimbursements.

Cemetery Expenses
All cemeteries operate under separate state regulations. Almost all cemeteries expect payment upfront. This applies to all active duty Navy and Marine Corps deceased personnel, who are entitled to cemetery reimbursements under US Code title 10.  If secondary funeral expenses do not exceed designated allowances, the remaining balance can be applied towards applicable cemetery charges.  Please consult the Navy Mortuary Office (toll-free 1-866-787-0081) for assistance in determining authorized cemetery expenses.

Funeral and Cemetery Claims Processing
In order to process funeral related claims, the following items are required: 

  1. Itemized bills, and/or receipts relating to funeral expenses, such as SIGNED funeral contracts by the PADD or family representative. (Expenses for food and drink will not be reimbursed).
  2. DD-1375 (Request for Payment of Funeral and/or Interment Expenses), requires sponsors SSN, and/or claimants SSN, signature of PADD, or next of kin.
  3. Copy of death certificate, or command generated Personnel Casualty Report (PCR).
  4. Civilian employee claims must also contain a copy of the official TAD orders.

DD 1375 (Request for Payment of Funeral and/or Interment Expenses)

Mortuary Escort Travel Information

Escorts can be active duty or civilian personnel. Military personnel designated as a funeral escort are entitled to TAD orders, funded by Navy Mortuary Affairs.  Active duty personnel will coordinated with their command travel section, whom are entitled to orders funded via Mortuary Line of Accounting (LOA) funds.  A Centrally Managed Allotment for Navy Mortuary message provides the necessary lines of accounting (LOA) to cite on the original travel orders and guidance on who can charge the LOA.

The Navy will fund travel for one official (1) escort.  Allowable expenses authorized for escorts includes, roundtrip airfare from departing city, rental car allowance, lodging and per diem based on destination.  Escort travel is authorized up to 72 hours, from time of initial departure.  Certain travel circumstances apply on case-by-case basis, exceeding the 72 hour allowance.

Escort travel can be funded by a member’s command.  Multiple escorts can be authorized, at issuing member’s command expense.  Be advised however that multiple escorts may not be able to meet aircraft accommodations.  Therefore, service member remains, and the individual designated escort have top priority for all flights.  Designated MTF’s and outlying clinics have GTR’s in place to arrange flight accommodations.  The funeral director sets the flight for the service members remains, and command travel coordinators are to match exact flight schedules. 

For additional information and guidance pertaining to Navy Mortuary services, contact (901)874-6682.

Morticians are available 24 hours a day to provide benefits guidance and technical assistance to funeral directors and CACOs, or to answer any questions that may arise. Normal office hours are 0730 to 1600 Central Time. After hours, the duty mortician can be paged. Mortuary Affairs can be contacted at DSN 882-6682, commercial (901) 874-6682 or 3858 or toll free at 1-866-787-0081.

Claims can be submitted via mail or fax. Please forward claims to:

Navy Casualty
Attn: Navy Mortuary 
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-6200

FAX: 901-874-2003 or 901-874-6654

Note: All claims are based on reimbursement of expenses, therefore, funeral claim benefits cannot be accessed as cash advances.

For any additional questions concerning benefits and claims,
please contact Navy Mortuary Affairs
Monday thru Friday 0730 - 1600 Central Time

Commercial - (901) 874-6682 or 3858 
DSN - 882-6682
Toll free - 1-866-787-0081

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