Death at Sea

The Master of any ship has full authority to decide whether, for health reasons, a body should be immediately disposed of at Sea or whether to keep the body for disposal in accordance to the wishes of the relatives or executors of the deceased.

Death at Sea in Foreign ships

The Superintendent of the port where the crew of the ship is discharged is required to make enquiries into the cause of the death and record in the official log whether the cause of death, as recorded in the Ship's Log is considered to be true or otherwise.

Death at Sea in British-registered ships

The Master of the ship must record all the facts and particulars of the nature of the death and must deliver them to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen on arrival at any port in the UK or at any port outside the UK, as directed by the Department of Trade and Industry.

In all cases of deaths at Sea, where the body is brought into a British port the death is reported to the Coroner in whose jurisdiction the port is located. HM Coroner may decide to hold an enquiry in which case the body cannot be moved without the Coroner's authority.

Registration of Death at Sea

The actual registration of the death is the prerogative of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff, South Glamorgan to whom all reports are sent.  Copies of the entry in the Register may be obtained from this office for probate or insurance purposes.

Registry of Shipping and Seamen (RSS)
Anchor Court
Keen Road
South Glamorgan
Wales CF24 5JW

Phone: 029 2044 8800
Fax: 029 2044 8820

Registration Procedure:

For persons who die at sea and are brought back to England or Wales for disposal, the same procedure with the Registrar is required as for deaths abroad.

Before issuing a ‘Certificate of No Liability to Register' the Registrar for the sub-district where disposal is to take place will require some evidence as to the circumstances of the death.  This can be obtained by applying for a copy of the entry in the Ship's Log from the Shipping Company owning the ship or from the Superintendent of the port of entry.

Death at Sea information:

The above information has been provided by The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) -

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