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A columbarium is defined as a vault with niches for urns containing the ashes of cremated bodies.  

Because of the limited size of the cemetery at the Naval Academy, the USNA  Alumni Association funded the creation of a USNA columbarium in 1987.  It is located between the cemetery, which is on a small hill adjacent to the Hospital, and Dorsey Creek.  Across the creek from the columbarium is Worden Field, Alumni Hall and in the distance the Chapel dome.  It is a beautiful location.  

Any graduate of the Naval Academy who was separated under honorable circumstances is eligible for inurnment at the Naval Academy columbarium.  There is no cost involved except for $450 to defray the cost of engraving the niche cover.  For both the veteran and spouse the cost is $750.  It is important to have a copy of the DD-214 as well as copies of the death certificate and cremation certificate when contacting the Chaplin's office to arrange for an inurnment.  

The Naval Academy columbarium consists of a series of walls faced with niches.  Each niche is 8.5” wide, 10.25” deep and 10.25” high.  There is room an a niche for two urns for a husband and wife.  The Academy Chaplain's office has information on funeral homes that have urns in stock that will fit the niches if there is any problem finding an urn the correct size.  In front of the columbarium is an Oratory which is a covered marble and granite venue that can seat 70 guests for the ceremony.  The Oratory was donated by the Class of 1959.  

The columbarium ceremony for a veteran, which includes military honors, is as follows:  

  •     A Navy Chaplain and the Memorial Affairs Coordinator greet the family and guests who then proceed to the Oratory.  

  •     An honor guard carries the urn and an American flag to the Oratory.  

  •     The Chaplain offers a committal service which consists of prayers and comments.  

  •     The honor guard unfolds and holds up the flag and a bugler plays “Taps”.  

  •     The flag is then refolded and handed to a Presenting Officer who in turn presents it to the next of kin.  

  •     An opportunity is provided for family and friends to make comments about the deceased.  

  •     The honor guard then proceeds to the open niche with the urn and the family and guests follow.  

  •     The Chaplain makes a final blessing and prayer which concludes the ceremony.  An average ceremony takes about 30 minutes.  

The ceremony for a spouse is the same except there are no military honors.  

It is possible to arrange for a service at the Chapel prior to the columbarium ceremony.  It is also possible to arrange for a post ceremony reception at the Officers Club.  

Anyone considering the columbarium option should contact the Memorial Affairs Coordinator at the Naval Academy Chaplain's Office.  At the present time that person is Ms. Sharon Moffatt.   Her telephone number is 410 293-1101 and her email address is moffatt@usna.edu.  She can provide you with a package of detailed information.


Prepared by Bill Schraam