US Navy ship holds burial at sea for twenty military veterans

Sailors release the ashes of a deceased Sailor during a burial at sea ceremony onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. Photo: US Navy

Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault sip USS Wasp (LHD 1) laid to rest 20 military veterans and one military spouse during a burial at sea held June 30.

Seventeen Sailors, one Marine, one Airman, one Soldier and one military spouse where committed to the sea with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.

The ceremony was conducted under the direction of Wasp’s Commanding Officer Capt. Andy Smith and Command Chaplain Cmdr. Carla Barry.

“On this solemn occasion we stand ready to carry out a duty, which is also a privilege,” said Smith. “To render appropriate military honors for shipmates who have passed on from this life.”

During the ceremony, the command chaplain recognized each service member individually. The deceased were then committed to the sea, honored with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.
Each department aboard Wasp played a role in conducting the burial at sea. Sailors and Marines volunteered to carry the remains of each fallen service member and dependent.

Burials at sea are often performed for fallen military members who were retired, honorably discharged or active duty as well as for their family.

According to the history section of the navy website, the tradition of a burial at sea is an ancient one. This practice has been around as long as people have gone to sea. In earlier times, the body was sewn into a weighted shroud, usually sailcloth. The body was then sent over the side, usually with an appropriate religious ceremony. Many burials at sea took place as recently as World War II when naval forces operated at sea for months at a time. Since World War II many service members, veterans, and family members have chosen to be buried at sea.

Wasp is deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.

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