Committal of ashes by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) or from HMCS SACKVILLE during Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Service the first Sunday in May annually.
Committal of ashes by the RCN
The committal of ashes to the deep by the RCN is quite separate from the service provided by HMCS SACKVILLE described in the following paragraphs. The RCN benefit is for deceased members and former members in which, depending on the availability of deploying ships, ashes only are taken to sea and committed during the deployment, without family members present. The details and procedure for using the RCN benefit can be obtained by contacting the Formation Chaplain’s Office administrator, Mrs Brenda Wallace at 902-721-8660 during normal working hours 0800-1600- Monday to Friday or please contact the Chaplain, Lieutenant Commander ret’d Andrew Cooke: email@example.com
Committal from HMCS SACKVILLE
The following paragraphs contain the information required by family members considering having their loved one’s ashes committed to the deep from HMCS SACKVILLE, Canada’s Naval Memorial.
Since the late 1980’s, HMCS SACKVILLE has included a committal service with the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Service held annually on the first Sunday in May. The ship is moved by tug from her winter berth in the Naval Dockyard to a position in the harbour approaches to seaward of the Sailor’s Memorial in Point Pleasant Park. The initial committal services were for deceased trustees of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust. The privilege is now extended to veterans and their spouses.
Ship’s capacity and space allocation procedure
SACKVILLE is a relatively small ship, with limited upper deck space and many obstructions that reduce the capability to accommodate people. We have determined by experience that we can accommodate 25urns for committal to the deep during each Battle of the Atlantic deployment. The ship can accommodate 100 Next of Kin (NOK) in addition to the space allocated for trustees and personnel required to crew the ship and conduct the service Thus, the number of NOK that the ship can accommodate from each family is a practical matter of capacity and fairness. Initially we commit to taking four next of kin with each urn. IN THE WEEK PRIOR TO THE DEPLOYMENT, SACKVILLE’s Commanding Officer and the Ship’s Chaplain will review the committal request list, and the number of NOK requested to accompany each urn, to determine if either there are less urns than 25 or that some families request less than four accompanying NOK. Unused spaces will be reallocated to NOK that request additional spaces.
The officers and crew of SACKVILLE are very aware of the emotion and grief associated with the committal of the ashes of a family member or friend. Indeed, frequently we are committing the ashes of friends and shipmates and share your grief. We will make all possible effort to provide an empathetic and dignified service to the highest naval standard.
Safety and practical considerations
There are a number of practical aspects that must be emphasized to those considering accompanying the ashes to be committed to the deep from HMCS SACKVILLE.
SACKVILLE is a warship of a past generation. It will be very congested, ladders are steep and there are many obstructions on the deck that impede movement. Most wheel chairs can not negotiate the brow to gain entry to the ship, nor can they move beyond the entry deck. These physical restrictions present challenges to the mobility impaired.
High heel shoes are not suitable footwear for steep ladders, damp, slippery steel decks, and the unfamiliar ship’s motion. Low heel, high traction footwear should be worn.
The safety of children embarked remains the prime responsibility of the accompanying adults. Restrictions imposed by the ship’s officers must be obeyed.
Washroom facilities are VERY limited.
Do not be lulled by the weather ashore. It is invariably cold, damp, and windy on the water in the first week of May. Dress accordingly.
The deployment of SACKVILLE for the BOA and committal services is very weather dependent and the decision to move the ship is the responsibility of the Commanding Officer. Should it not be possible to deploy for the services either because of weather, ship availability or other cause, SACKVILLE will determine if an alternate date is possible, or the family can consider, in consultation with the Chaplain, to request committal by the RCN at a date convenient to the RCN, or have the ashes returned to the family.
Trustees, and NOK accompanying ashes, should embark in SACKVILLE between 0830 and 0915. SACKVILLE’s brow will be landed shortly after 0915 and the ship prepared to slip and move by tug down the harbour to a position to seaward of the Sailor’s Memorial located at the seaward extremity of Point Pleasant Park. Similar memorial services at the Sailor’s Memorial and on the ship will commence at 1055. The Committal Service onboard SACKVILLE will commence shortly after the conclusion of the Memorial Service. SACKVILLE will be back alongside in the Naval Dockyard at approximately 1300.
Procedure for requesting the committal of ashes from SACKVILLE
To request information for the committal of ashes from HMCS Sackville please contact either Padre Charles Black, Chaplain of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, at 902-435-6840, or Mrs Brenda Wallace, Administrative Assistant at the Formation Chaplain’s Office, CFB Halifax, at 902-721-8660 during normal working hours 0800-1600 Monday to Friday.
It is important to contact the above as soon as possible following the death of the one whose ashes are to be interred from HMCS Sackville so that the committal can be included in the next Battle of the Atlantic Committal Service. Also, it is requested that the ashes be in a container that will permit the ashes to be removed and placed in a standard biodegradable, weighted, container at the Formation Chaplain’s Office (the original urn will be returned to the family, if requested, at the time of the service). It is important that a biographical account especially of the individual’s navy/merchant navy/military service, and a copy of the obituary accompany the cremains when brought into, or sent to the Formation Chaplains’ Office. A contact person’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, is needed as well.
Conduct of the Service
The Committal Service on board HMCS Sackville, the first Sunday in May, follows the Battle of Atlantic Service (the same service as used at the Point Pleasant Park Sailors’ Memorial). The Committal Service is brief and respectful, with ceremonial appropriate to a small warship of the Second World War. There is opportunity for family members/friends to place floral tributes over the side when the ashes of a loved one are interred.
Because this is a “public” service and not a private occasion, no part of the service will be changed or modified to suit personal wishes.
While the ship is in transit to and from the services you are free to move about the ship. Usually light refreshments will be available during the return to Dockyard. A chart portion, showing the latitude and longitude of the interment site, will be provided to designated persons, within a reasonable time after the event.