Burial at Sea: Down in Davy Jones’ Locker

by P-Francone
fish swimming past sunken ship

Davy Jones’ locker is a euphemism for the bottom of the sea. It’s believed that the name came from St. David who is the patron saint of sailers.

Burial at sea is possibly one of the oldest methods for disposing of the body of the deceased. Although no records are available, this practice was probably started by the ancient mariners. This practice has, in more recent times, been used mainly by people who fought at sea. The popularity of burials at sea probably reached its height during the two World Wars, as many servicemen died at sea.

In earlier days, bodies were sewn into a weighted shroud, usually a sailcloth or burlap sack. The bodies were weighted with rocks or cannonballs to ensure that the body didn’t float back up to the surface. Today, it is usually recommended that when conducting a burial at sea, the remains be cremated.

Burial at sea is still quite a common practice, although it is usually only preferred today by veterans, military service members and military family members.

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