Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen approved a request by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for U.S. Navy assistance for the burial at sea of John F. Kennedy Jr. The Freeman and Bessette families also requested that Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Lauren Bessette be buried in the same ceremony. Cohen asked the Chief of Naval Operations to provide this support.
USS Briscoe, a Spruance-class destroyer homeported in Norfolk, Va. will perform the burial at sea ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. today. The ship is at sea conducting training operations in the Virginia Capes area and was directed to proceed to the vicinity of Martha's Vineyard to provide ceremonial support. Impact on the operational schedule of the Briscoe was minimal.
Capt. Louis Iasiello and Cmdr. William Petruska, U.S. Navy Catholic chaplains, and a civilian Catholic priest, will officiate at the ceremony.
An appropriate solemn observance also will be conducted on board the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV67) at the same time as the memorial service in New York City on Friday morning. The John F. Kennedy is currently participating in a major fleet exercise off the mid-Atlantic coast.
USS Briscoe was commissioned in June 1978 and carries a crew of 26 officers and 300 sailors.